Cardiovascular disease and obstructive sleep apnea: Implications for physicians

Brian H. Foresman, Patricia A. Gwirtz, Joseph P. Mcmahon

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) has been strongly associated with several cardiovascular disorders during the past decade, and studies suggested that there might be a causal relationship. Recent studies have described several pathophysiologic mechanisms that are active in OSA and may participate in the development of cardiovascular disorders. Primarily, the repetitive respiratory events that occur in OSA cause hypoxia, hypercapnea, arousals, or disrupted sleep singly or in combination. These abnormal physiologic events result in increased sympathetic outflow, alterations in blood pressure control mechanisms, dysfunctional ventilatory regulation, and vascular alterations. As a consequence of the relative impact and the genetic predisposition, these pathophysiologic alterations may lead to or complicate a wide variety of cardiovascular disorders. Frequently, patients who have OSA present with complaints of excessive daytime sleepiness, chronic fatigue, snoring, morning headache, and nocturnal arousals. Difficult-to-control hypertension, recurrent exacerbations of congestive heart failure, and nocturnal angina are common cardiovascular manifestations of undiagnosed OSA. This article reviews the major cardiovascular disorders associated with OSA and the pathophysiologic mechanisms associated with their development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)360-369
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the American Osteopathic Association
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2000


  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome


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