Even Mild Sleep Apnea Increases Heart Risk

Research shows that minimally symptomatic obstructive sleep apnea can increase arterial stiffness.

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According a study published in the Nov. 1 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, even people with minimally symptomatic obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) may be at greater cardiovascular risk because of increased arterial stiffness. Traditionally, more severe forms of OSA have been linked to heart disease, but this recent research suggests that people with mild forms of the condition should take steps to protect their hearts as well. "Obstructive sleep apnea is a growing public health problem in the United States and other developed countries," says Michael D. Faulx, MD, FACC, a staff cardiologist at Cleveland Clinic. "Increasing research supports a causal role for OSA in diurnal (daytime) hypertension, and the importance of this relationship is illustrated by the inclusion of sleep apnea as an identifiable cause of hypertension in current management guidelines. Additionally, individuals with OSA are more likely to suffer from heart failure, ischemic heart disease, stroke, and recurrent atrial fibrillation than are subjects without OSA."
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