Sleep apnea and the heart

Cleve Clin J Med. 2019 Sep;86(9 Suppl 1):10-18. doi: 10.3949/ccjm.86.s1.03.


The normal sleep-wake cycle is characterized by diurnal variations in blood pressure, heart rate, and cardiac events. Sleep apnea disrupts the normal sleep-heart interaction, and the pathophysiology varies for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and central sleep apnea (CSA). Associations exist between sleep-disordered breathing (which encompasses both OSA and CSA) and heart failure, atrial fibrillation, stroke, coronary artery disease, and cardiovascular mortality. Treatment options include positive airway pressure as well as adaptive servo-ventilation and phrenic nerve stimulation for CSA. Treatment improves blood pressure, quality of life, and sleepiness, the last particularly in those at risk for cardiovascular disease. Results from clinical trials are not definitive in terms of hard cardiovascular outcomes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / mortality
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology
  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure / methods
  • Heart / physiopathology
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Sleep / physiology
  • Sleep Apnea, Central / complications
  • Sleep Apnea, Central / physiopathology*
  • Sleep Apnea, Central / therapy
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / complications
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / physiopathology*
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / therapy