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Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome: natural history, diagnosis, and emerging treatment options

Authors Gharibeh T, Mehra R

Published 28 September 2010 Volume 2010:2 Pages 233—255

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/NSS.S6844

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Tarek Gharibeh1, Reena Mehra1,2
1Department of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, 2Center for Clinical Investigation and Case Center for Transdisciplinary Research on Energetics and Cancer, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland, OH, USA

Abstract: Sleep apnea is an entity characterized by repetitive upper airway obstruction resulting in nocturnal hypoxia and sleep fragmentation. It is estimated that 2%–4% of the middle-aged population has sleep apnea with a predilection in men relative to women. Risk factors of sleep apnea include obesity, gender, age, menopause, familial factors, craniofacial abnormalities, and alcohol. Sleep apnea has been increasingly recognized as a major health burden associated with hypertension and increased risk of cardiovascular disease and death. Increased airway collapsibility and derangement in ventilatory control responses are the major pathological features of this disorder. Polysomnography (PSG) is the gold-standard method for diagnosis of sleep apnea and assessment of sleep apnea severity; however, portable sleep monitoring has a diagnostic role in the setting of high pretest probability sleep apnea in the absence of significant comorbidity. Positive pressure therapy is the mainstay therapy of sleep apnea. Other treatment modalities, such as upper airway surgery or oral appliances, may be used for the treatment of sleep apnea in select cases. In this review, we focus on describing the sleep apnea definition, risk factor profile, underlying pathophysiologic mechanisms, associated adverse consequences, diagnostic modalities, and treatment strategies.

Keywords: positive airway pressure, obstructive sleep apnea, cardiovascular disease

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