Obstructive sleep apnoea and cardiovascular disease: a literature review

Arch Med Sci. 2019 Oct 8;17(5):1200-1212. doi: 10.5114/aoms.2019.88558. eCollection 2021.


As obesity becomes more common worldwide, the prevalence of obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) continues to rise. Obstructive sleep apnoea is a well-known disorder that causes chronic intermittent hypoxia (CIH), which is considered a risk factor for atherosclerosis directly and indirectly. Ischaemic heart disease remains the leading cause of death. Most risk factors for atherosclerosis are well understood. However, other factors such as CIH are less well understood. Several studies have investigated the pathophysiology of CIH, attempting to uncover its link to atherosclerosis and to determine whether OSA treatment can be a therapeutic modality to modify the risk for atherosclerosis. In this article, we will review the pathophysiology of OSA as an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease and discuss the most common markers that have been studied. We will also examine the potential impact of OSA management as a risk factor modifier on the reversibility of atherosclerosis.

Keywords: atherosclerosis; chronic intermittent hypoxia; obstructive sleep apnoea.