Analysis of nasal resistance regulation mechanism during postural changes in patients with obstructive sleep apnea by measuring heart rate variability

J Clin Sleep Med. 2023 Apr 1;19(4):643-650. doi: 10.5664/jcsm.10402.


Study objectives: Changes in nasal resistance (NR) during postural changes are influenced by venous filling pressure and autonomic nervous system mediation, and heart rate variability (HRV) can reflect changes in the autonomic nervous system. This study aimed to explore the regulatory mechanisms of NR in patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) during postural changes.

Methods: Healthy controls (apnea-hypopnea index < 5 events/h) and patients with OSA were recruited. NR and electrocardiogram data were collected in sitting, supine, left-lateral, and right-lateral postures. HRV parameters were obtained by analyzing the electrocardiogram data from each posture. Subgroups were divided according to sitting-supine NR changes, and HRV parameters were compared between different postures and groups/subgroups.

Results: In total, 34 healthy controls and 39 patients with OSA (mean apnea-hypopnea index 34.34 ± 22.44 events/h) were recruited. During sitting-supine postural changes, the NR increased in the control group but did not change significantly in the OSA group. None of the autonomic nervous system-related HRV parameters changed significantly. After the groups were divided into NR-elevated and NR-unchanged subgroups, sympathetic activity-related HRV parameters were higher in the NR-unchanged subgroup but only statistically significant in the OSA group. When comparing the left and right postures, there was no significant change in NR; however, the OSA group had lower parasympathetic activity-related HRV parameters when in the right posture.

Conclusions: During postural changes from the sitting to supine positions, the total NR increases, and this increment is smaller in patients with OSA. This is likely due to overregulation of sympathetic activity, which may occur in patients with OSA.

Citation: Shi Y, Lou H, Wang H, et al. Analysis of nasal resistance regulation mechanism during postural changes in obstructive sleep apnea patients by measuring heart rate variability. J Clin Sleep Med. 2023;19(4):643-650.

Keywords: autonomic nervous system; heart rate variability; obstructive; posture; rhinomanometry; sleep apnea.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Autonomic Nervous System / physiology
  • Electrocardiography
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Posture
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive*