Hemodynamic consequences of obstructive sleep apnea

Sleep. 1996 Jun;19(5):388-97. doi: 10.1093/sleep/19.5.388.


Patients with obstructive sleep apnea demonstrate both acute and chronic hemodynamic changes attributable to their disease. Acutely, these patients experience repetitive nocturnal hemodynamic oscillations. Sudden increases in heart rate and arterial pressure occur in association with decreases in left ventricular stroke volume immediately following apnea termination. These hemodynamic changes are likely attributable primarily to the effects of oxygen desaturation and arousal, an abrupt change in state. These acute changes occur against a background of altered cardiovascular control. Patients with sleep apnea, even when sleeping without obstructions, fail to display the normal nocturnal decline in arterial pressure of 10-15% from the waking value. The absence of a nocturnal decline may have chronic consequences, such as development of left ventricular hypertrophy. Another chronic hemodynamic consequence of sleep apnea may be sustained diurnal hypertension. Epidemiologic studies suggest individuals with sleep disordered breathing are at greater risk of daytime hypertension, even after controlling for other risk factors. Although sleep apnea may contribute to pulmonary, as well as systemic hypertension, sleep apnea alone does not appear to be a cause of decompensated right heart failure. Although knowledge of the hemodynamic consequences of sleep apnea has grown in recent years, much remains to be learned.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Heart / physiology
  • Heart Rate
  • Hemodynamics*
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / etiology*
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / etiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Positive-Pressure Respiration
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / complications*
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / therapy
  • Sleep, REM*
  • Vasoconstriction
  • Vasodilation