The increased heart risks that are associated with having obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) have been well established by numerous studies. However, a new study set out to find exactly what is it about OSA that makes it predictor of cardiovascular events.
OSA is a chronic sleep disorder that is characterized by paused breathing during sleep, causing disrupted sleep and serious health risks. OSA is usually measured using the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI); the number of times that breathing pauses or severely slows each hour during sleep.
Researchers studied 10,149 participants with OSA who underwent diagnostic polysomnography between 1994 and 2010. Over the course of the study, 1,172 of the patients developed cardiovascular disease.
The biggest predictor of a cardiovascular event was how much time a person spent sleeping while oxygen saturation was below 90%. Other factors that were associated with the risk of a cardiovascular event included daytime sleepiness, sleep time, heart rate, leg movements, and the number of awakenings at night.
It is important that all people with sleep apnea get treated as soon as possible. The most common treatment is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). Speak with your doctor about protecting your health, while getting the added bonus of a better night’s sleep.