Do Sleep disorders increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases? 

Colleen Bramwell
Collen Bramweel
Saint Augustine's University

Colleen N. Bramwell, John R. Schmelzer, Richard L. Berg, Joseph J. Mazza, Jamie A. Boero, James K. Burmester. 
Clinical Research Center

Research area: Clinical Research

Background: Approximately 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, characterized by pauses in breathing during sleep, resulting in reduction of blood oxygen levels. The most common treatment for sleep apnea is Continuous Positive Airway pressure (CPAP) that restores breathing and oxygen levels. Here we investigated whether there is an association between the severity of sleep apnea and cardiovascular disease.

Methods: We conducted a case-control study among adults who had undergone a sleep study from 2007 through 2013. We defined a case of cardiovascular disease as patients who experienced intervention (either Percutaneous Transluminal Coronary Angiogram or Coronary Artery Bypass Graft) or death subsequent to their sleep study. Two controls were matched to each case based on year of sleep study, age, gender and other clinical factors. Severity of sleep apnea was defined based on level of oxygen desaturation. Compliance with CPAP treatment was determined by two independent reviewers.

Results: Charts of 29 cases and 58 controls were reviewed. The mean age of patients was 61 years and 62% were male. Compliance with therapy was lower among cases than controls (69% vs 81%, odds ratio 0.47; 95% CI: 0.16-1.34). Minimum oxygen level was the severity measure showing the strongest association with events.

Conclusion: Our findings agree with previous research, suggesting that severity of sleep disturbance is a risk factor for cardiovascular events. Compliance with recommended treatment for sleep disorders may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Larger studies are needed to confirm these findings.