Are we underestimating the lifelong benefits of therapy for obstructive sleep apnea?
Alec M Berman, Saurabh S Thosar, Steven A Shea
Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, OR, USA
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a complex disorder involving the cardiovascular (CV), pulmonary, and metabolic systems. Characterized by marked daytime fatigue and reduced quality of life, OSA is independently associated with increased risk of hypertension,1 cardiovascular disease (CVD),2 including myocardial infarction (MI)3 and ischemic stroke,4 metabolic syndrome,5 and all-cause mortality.6 Currently, the most common treatment for OSA is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) during sleep, though its efficacy in reducing daytime fatigue and CVD risk factors depends largely on compliance to therapy, which is poor in the general population.7 Lamberts et al8 performed a large epidemiological study of OSA, using the Danish National Patient Registry (NPR; ∼4.5 million; including 25,389 people diagnosed with OSA), which confirmed associations between OSA and risk of ischemic stroke and MI. Yet, that study failed to show that CPAP reduces the incidence of these adverse CV events.8 On the other hand, a more recent study, which examined the same Danish NPR across a very similar time period, revealed that in people with OSA, CPAP reduces all-cause mortality.9 This editorial evaluates these seemingly conflicting results, whereby CPAP appears to reduce mortality but not two of the largest contributors to mortality: stroke and MI.
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