Obstructive sleep apnoea and cardiovascular disease

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Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) leads to both acute and chronic physiological effects on the cardiovascular system. There is now a large amount of evidence showing that OSA is independently associated with a wide spectrum of clinical cardiovascular disease (CVD). Evidence for a causative effect of OSA is strongest for hypertension, but is weaker for other cardiovascular disorders. Large prospective trials are ongoing and when results become available the link between OSA and CVD is likely to be strengthened. Treatment of OSA with continuous positive airway pressure has been shown to improve blood pressure, particularly in those with hypertension, and also left ventricular ejection fraction in those with congestive heart failure. Given the high prevalence of OSA in the community and its effects on the cardiovascular system, symptoms of this disorder should be sought in patients being investigated or treated for CVD. (Intern Med J 2004; 34: 420−426)
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