Association Between Sleep Apnoea and Pulmonary Hypertension in Kyrgyz Highlanders

Eur Respir J. 2017 Feb 2;49(2):1601530. doi: 10.1183/13993003.01530-2016. Print 2017 Feb.


This case-control study evaluates a possible association between high altitude pulmonary hypertension (HAPH) and sleep apnoea in people living at high altitude.Ninety highlanders living at altitudes >2500 m without excessive erythrocytosis and with normal spirometry were studied at 3250 m (Aksay, Kyrgyzstan); 34 healthy lowlanders living below 800 m were studied at 760 m (Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan). Echocardiography, polysomnography and other outcomes were assessed. Thirty-six highlanders with elevated mean pulmonary artery pressure (mPAP) >30 mmHg (31-42 mmHg by echocardiography) were designated as HAPH+. Their data were compared to that of 54 healthy highlanders (HH, mPAP 13-28 mmHg) and 34 healthy lowlanders (LL, mPAP 8-24 mmHg).The HAPH+ group (median age 52 years (interquartile range 47-59) had a higher apnoea-hypopnoea index (AHI) of 33.8 events·h-1 (26.9-54.6) and spent a greater percentage of the night-time with an oxygen saturation <90% (T<90; 78% (61-89)) than the HH group (median age 39 years (32-48), AHI 9.0 events·h-1 (3.6-16), T<90 33% (10-69)) and the LL group (median age 40 years (30-47), AHI 4.3 events·h-1 (1.4-12.6), T<90 0% (0-0)); p<0.007 for AHI and T<90, respectively, in HAPH+ versus others. In highlanders, multivariable regression analysis confirmed an independent association between mPAP and both AHI and T<90, when controlled for age, gender and body mass index.Pulmonary hypertension in highlanders is associated with sleep apnoea and hypoxaemia even when adjusted for age, gender and body mass index, suggesting pathophysiologic interactions between pulmonary haemodynamics and sleep apnoea.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Altitude
  • Altitude Sickness / complications*
  • Altitude Sickness / physiopathology*
  • Blood Pressure
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Echocardiography, Doppler
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / complications*
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / physiopathology*
  • Hypoxia / physiopathology
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Lung / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Polysomnography
  • Prospective Studies
  • Regression Analysis
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / diagnosis*
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / physiopathology*
  • Spirometry
  • Walk Test

Supplementary concepts

  • Pulmonary edema of mountaineers