Obstructive sleep apnea and risk of cardiovascular events

March 9th, 2018 by Vishal Saini

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) have been reported to be a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. A decade-long research study was done using the database of over 10,000 individuals who underwent sleep testing.

What are cardiovascular events?

It is a class of disease that involves heart or blood vessels. Cardiovascular disease includes but not limited to heart attack, hypertension, stroke, heart failure, angina, or thromboembolism (formation of blood clots). To assess the effect of sleep apnea researchers studied its association with the risk of occurrence of cardiac events like myocardial infarction, stroke, exacerbation of congestive heart failure, and coronary artery bypass surgery. In comparison to normal population, people in high risk group are more prone to develop cardiovascular disease due to obstructive sleep apnea. The high risk group includes elderly people, male gender, prior diabetes, prior hypertension, prior stroke, prior MI, prior CHF, prior COPD, and smokers.

Relation between variables of OSA and cardiovascular risk

A research study compared the cardiovascular outcome in people with sleep apnea without comorbidity with people who have history of serious illness with coexisting sleep apnea. The results of this study has shown that the event free survival rate for people having sleep apnea and comorbidity is 1-2 years which is significantly lower than the population without any pre-existing illness. Oxygen saturation less than 90% is also important. Low oxygen saturation causes damage to the heart tissue by a process called oxidative stress. Other variables of OSA like periodic leg movements and multiple night time awakenings also pose a risk towards cardiovascular events.


Individuals having sleep apnea with a prior history of diabetes, hypertension, heart attack, age 45+ years, smoking are at increased risk of having a cardiovascular event sooner in life compared to normal population. If you are suffering from any such health issues you need to be evaluated by a sleep physician. Don’t wait, our qualified physicians are just a phone call away. Schedule a consultation to get an assessment of your sleep health and to improve the quality of your life.