Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) is a highly prevalent sleep disorder, characterized by repeated disruptions of breathing during sleep. This disease has many potential consequences including excessive daytime sleepiness, neurocognitive deterioration, endocrinologic and metabolic effects and decreased quality of life. Patients with OSAS experience repetitive episodes of hypoxia and reoxygenation during transient cessation of breathing that provoke systemic effects. Furthermore, there may be increased levels of biomarkers linked to endocrine-metabolic and cardiovascular alterations. Epidemiological studies have identified OSAS as an independent comorbid factor in cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases and physiopathological links may exist with onset and progression of heart failure. In addition, OSAS is associated to other disorders and comorbities which worsen cardiovascular consequences, such as obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is an emerging public health problem that represents a constellation of cardiovascular risk factors. Each single component of the cluster increases total cardiovascular risk, but the combination of factors is even more significant. Both OSAS and metabolic syndrome may exert negative synergistic effects on the cardiovascular system through multiple mechanisms (eg., hypoxemia, sleep disruption, activation of the sympathetic nervous system, inflammatory activation). Continue positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy for OSAS provides an objective improvement in symptoms and cardiac function, decreases cardiovascular risk, improves insulin sensitivity and normalizes biomarkers. OSAS contributes to the pathogenesis of cardiovascular disease independently and by the interaction with comorbities. The present review focuses on indirect and direct evidence regarding mechanisms implicated in cardiovascular disease among OSAS patients.
Keywords: Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, metabolic syndrome, heart failure, cardiovascular disease, systemic hypertension, continue positive airway pressure