Annals of Thoracic Medicine Official publication of the Saudi Thoracic Society, affiliated to King Saud University
 
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REVIEW ARTICLE
Year : 2010  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 10-17

Obstructive sleep apnea and cardiac arrhythmias


King Fahad Cardiac Centre, College of Medicine, King Saud University, Riyadh 11472, Saudi Arabia

Correspondence Address:
Ahmad Salah Hersi
P.O Box 7805(92), King Fahad Cardiac Centre, College of Medicine, King Saud University, Riyadh 11472
Saudi Arabia
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DOI: 10.4103/1817-1737.58954

PMID: 20351955

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Sleep-disordered breathing (SDB), which includes obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) as its most extreme variant, is characterized by intermittent episodes of partial or complete obstruction of the upper airway, leading to cessation of breathing while asleep. Cardiac arrhythmias are common problems in OSA patients, although the true prevalence and clinical relevance of cardiac arrhythmias remains to be determined. The presence and complexity of tachyarrhythmias and bradyarrhythmias may influence morbidity, mortality and quality of life for patients with OSA. Although the exact mechanisms underlying the link between OSA and cardiac arrhythmias are not well established, they could be some of the same proposed mechanisms relating OSA to different cardiovascular diseases, such as repetitive pharyngeal collapse during sleep, which leads to markedly reduced or absent airflow, followed by oxyhemoglobin desaturation, persistent inspiratory efforts against an occluded airway and termination by arousal from sleep. These mechanisms elicit a variety of autonomic, hemodynamic, humoral and neuroendocrine responses that evoke acute and chronic changes in cardiovascular function. However, despite substantial research effort, the goals of determining in advance which patients will respond most favorably to certain treatment options (such as continuous positive airway pressure, tracheostomy or cardioversion) and the developing alternative treatments remain largely elusive. Therefore, this literature review aims to summarize a broad array of the pathophysiological mechanisms underlying the relationship between OSA and cardiac arrhythmias and the extent of this association from an epidemiological perspective, thereby attempting to assess the effects of OSA treatment on the presence of cardiac arrhythmias.


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