A contemporary review of obstructive sleep apnea

Curr Opin Pulm Med. 2019 Nov;25(6):578-593. doi: 10.1097/MCP.0000000000000623.


Purpose of review: This review provides a contemporary review of sleep apnea with emphasis on definitions, epidemiology, and consequences.

Recent findings: Amyloid β-42 is one of the main peptides forming amyloid plaques in the brains of Alzheimer patients. Poorer sleep quality and shorter sleep duration have been associated with a higher amyloid burden. Decreased sleep time in the elderly is a precipitating factor in amyloid retention. Studies have shown that the dysregulation of the homeostatic balance of the major inhibitory and excitatory amino acid neurotransmitter systems of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and glutamate play a role in sleep disordered breathing (SDB).

Summary: Untreated sleep disordered breathing (obstructive sleep apnea and/or central sleep apnea) are an important cause of medical mortality and morbidity. OSA is characterized by recurrent episodes of partial or complete collapse of the upper airway during sleep followed by hypoxia and sympathetic activation. Apneic events are terminated by arousal, followed by increases in pulse and blood pressure, and re-oxygenation and the release of inflammatory factors. Individuals with OSA have an increased risk of developing atrial fibrillation. Hypoxemia and poor sleep quality because of OSA increase the risk of cognitive decline in the elderly.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors
  • Sleep / physiology
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes* / epidemiology
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes* / metabolism
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes* / physiopathology
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes* / psychology