"Not only are the shape and size of the heart affected, the right side of the heart was dilated and the heart muscle on the left side was thicker in patients with obstructive sleep apnea, but the pump function was also reduced. The changes were directly related to the severity of the problem. Treating the problem brought significant improvements in the affected parameters, as well as in symptoms, in a relatively short period of time of six months," said Bharati Shivalkar, M.D., Ph.D. from the University Hospital Antwerp in Antwerp, Belgium.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common sleep-related breathing disorder associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease. The OSA syndrome is characterized by repeated partial or complete closure of the pharynx, gasping episodes, sleep fragmentation, and daytime sleepiness. Previous studies have shown that sleep apnea is associated with high blood pressure and other cardiovascular risks, including stroke, ischemia, arrhythmias, or sudden death.
This study included 43 patients (32 men and 11 women) with obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep lab studies measured the severity and frequency of complete or partial interruptions of airflow. The shape and pumping action of the participants' hearts was measured using ultrasound. The researchers also examined 40 similar control subjects who were healthy and did not report any symptoms that would indicate sleep apnea.
Compared to the control subjects, the hearts of the sleep apnea patients were significantly enlarged on the right side and had thickened walls between the pumping chambers. The hearts of s
Contact: Amy Murphy
American College of Cardiology