sleep apneaA recently concluded research study at the EUROECHO and other Imaging Modalities 2012 revealed that people with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) have the same early cardiovascular damage as diabetics.

The research study involved detailed assessment of  endothelial and arterial function in 20 non-diabetic patients with moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) , 20 patients with treated type 2 diabetes mellitus (matched for age, sex and cardiovascular risk factors), and 20 healthy controls (age and sex matched).

Arterial function was assessed in all subjects by intima-media thickness (IMT). Arterial stiffness was measured by young elastic modulus, beta stiffness index, arterial compliance, first systolic peak and second systolic peak. Endothelial function was assessed by flow-mediated dilation (FMD). All five parameters of arterial stiffness were significantly higher in the OSA and diabetes mellitus groups compared to controls. FMD was lower in these groups, meaning they had poorer endothelial function than controls.

“Patients with moderate to severe OSA had endothelial dysfunction and higher arterial stiffness than controls, and their results were similar to patients with diabetes mellitus,” said Raluca Mincu, MD, at EUROECHO.

“This suggests that OSA is associated with a high risk for cardiovascular disease.” Mincu additionally noted OSA patients who undergo treatment with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) could reverse the parameters measured in the study.

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