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Free Content The severity of individual obstruction events is related to increased mortality rate in severe obstructive sleep apnea

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Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is linked to an increased mortality rate. However, the severity of individual obstruction events is rarely considered quantitatively in clinical practice. We hypothesized that OSA with especially severe obstruction events would predispose a patient to greater health risks than OSA with a similar apnea–hypopnea index (AHI), but lower severity of individual events. This hypothesis was tested in a follow‐up (198.2 ± 24.7 months) of a population of 1068 men referred for ambulatory polygraphic recording due to suspected OSA. The recordings were analysed according to the guidelines of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Furthermore, a novel obstruction severity parameter was determined; this was defined as the product of duration of the individual obstruction event and area of the related desaturation event. Patients treated with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) were omitted. We identified 125 deceased patients from our original population and for 113 of these a matching alive patient with similar AHI, age, body mass index (BMI), smoking habits and follow‐up time could be found. The deceased patients with severe OSA (based on conventional AHI) showed higher obstruction severity values than their AHI‐matched alive controls. Based on the multivariate logistic regression analysis, obstruction severity was the only parameter which was related statistically significantly to mortality in the severe OSA category. Furthermore, 59% of all deceased patients and 83% of those who had severe OSA displayed higher obstruction severity than the AHI‐matched alive counterparts. To conclude, the obstruction severity parameter provided valuable prognostic information supplementing AHI. The obstruction severity parameter might improve recognition of the patients with the highest risk.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2013-12-01

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