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Eur J Intern Med. 2008 Oct;19(6):390-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ejim.2007.12.006. Epub 2008 Feb 13.

Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome is a systemic disease. Current evidence.

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Servicio de Neumología, Hospital Clínico Universitario, Santiago, Spain.


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. Metabolic syndrome is another highly prevalence emerging public health problem that represents a constellation of cardiovascular risk factors. Each single component of the cluster increases the cardiovascular risk, but the combination of factors is much more significant. It has been suggested that the presence of OSAS may increase the risk of developing some metabolic syndrome features. Moreover, OSAS patients are at an increased risk for vascular events, which represent the greatest morbidity and mortality of all associated complications. Although the etiology of OSAS is uncertain, intense local and systemic inflammation is present. A variety of phenomena are implicated in this disease such as modifications in the autonomic nervous system, hypoxemia-reoxygenation cycles, inflammation, and coagulation-fibrinolysis imbalance. OSAS patients also present increased levels of certain biomarkers linked to endocrine-metabolic and cardiovascular alterations among other systemic consequences. All of this indicates that, more than a local abnormality, OSAS should be considered a systemic disease.

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