A Brazilian study found that somehealthy middle-aged individuals withobstructive sleep apnea (OSA)showed early indicators of arterydisease. The researchers measuredmarkers of premature atherosclerosisin 42 patients (30 with untreatedOSA and 12 healthy participants).None of the participants had previousevidence of heart disease.
Reporting in the American Journalof Respiratory and Critical CareMedicine (September 1, 2005), theresearchers said that measurementsof early atherosclerosisleaned toward a direct correlationwith the severity of sleep apnea.The results of the study showedthat a parameter reflecting arterystiffness was considerably higheramong the patients with severesleep apnea, compared with patientswith milder sleep apnea andpatients with no sleep disorders.The same results were found for thethickness of the artery walls.
The researchers are currentlyconducting a randomized study withcontinuous positive airway pressure(CPAP) to examine the impact onthese signs of atherosclerosis. Theresearchers hope that the study willunderscore greater use of CPAP inpatients with OSA.