Obstructive sleep apnoea and cardiovascular complications: perception versus knowledge


Correspondence: Dr J Ren, University of Wyoming College of Health Sciences, Laramie, WY 82071, USA. Email: jren@uwyo.edu


  1. Epidemiological evidence has confirmed that obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) significantly promotes cardiovascular risk, independent of age, sex, race and other common risk factors for cardiovascular diseases, such as smoking, drinking, obesity, diabetes mellitus, dyslipidaemia and hypertension.
  2. Patients with severe OSA exhibit a higher prevalence of coronary artery disease, heart failure and stroke. Despite the tight correlation between sleep apnoea and these comorbidities, the mechanisms behind increased cardiovascular risk in OSA remain elusive. Several theories have been postulated, including sympathetic activation, endothelial dysfunction, oxidative stress and inflammation.
  3. The association between OSA and cardiovascular diseases may be rather complicated and compounded by the presence of components of metabolic syndrome, such as obesity, hypertension, diabetes mellitus and dyslipidaemia. The present minireview updates current knowledge with regard to the cardiovascular sequelae of OSA and the mechanisms involved.