Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common disorder with an increasing public health burden. It is characterized by repeated upper airway narrowing and closure, leading to apneas, hypopneas and increased respiratory effort-related arousals. Continuous positive airway pressure is an effective modality of treatment for OSA. Apart from being responsible for daytime sleepiness and cognitive impairment, OSA has been implicated in various systemic diseases, particularly of the cardiovascular system. This article reviews some of the extensive literature implicating OSA in the development of cardiovascular diseases and describes the intermediary pathophysiologic mechanisms involved. Repetitive nocturnal oxygen desaturation and reoxygenation and increased intrathoracic pressure changes related to OSA result in the intermediary pathophysiologic mechanisms that affect the neural, humoral, thrombotic, inflammatory and metabolic pathways responsible for the development of cardiovascular disorders. This review also examines evidence that suggests that OSA may be a specific cause of certain cardiovascular disorders.
View details for DOI 10.1586/174763126.96.36.199
View details for PubMedID 20477223