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Hypertension. 2009 Jan;53(1):64-9. doi: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.108.119420. Epub 2008 Nov 17.

Additive effects of obstructive sleep apnea and hypertension on early markers of carotid atherosclerosis.

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Hypertension Unit, Pulmonary Division, Heart Institute (InCor), University of Saõ Paulo Medical School, Saõ Paulo, Brazil.


Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) has emerged as an independent risk factor for atherosclerosis. However, OSA is frequently associated with several risk factors for atherosclerosis, including hypertension (HTN). The impact of OSA and HTN alone compared with the association of both conditions on carotid atherosclerosis is not understood. We studied 94 middle-aged participants free of smoking and diabetes mellitus who were divided into 4 groups: controls (n=22), OSA (n=25), HTN (n=20), and OSA+HTN (n=27). All of the participants underwent polysomnography and carotid measurements of intima-media thickness, diameter, and distensibility with an echo-tracking device. Compared with controls, intima-media thickness and carotid diameter were similarly higher in OSA (713+/-117 and 7117+/-805 microm), and HTN groups (713+/-182 and 7191+/-818 microm), with a further significant increase in OSA+HTN patients (837+/-181 and 7927+/-821 microm, respectively; P<0.01). Carotid distensibility was significantly lower in HTN (P<0.05) and OSA+HTN subjects (P<0.001) compared with controls. In the OSA+HTN group, carotid distensibility was significantly lower than in the OSA group and controls (P<0.05 for each comparison). Multivariate analysis showed that intima-media thickness was positively related to systolic blood pressure and apnea-hypopnea index. Apnea-hypopnea index was the only factor related to carotid diameter. Age and systolic blood pressure were independently related to carotid distensibility. In conclusion, the association of OSA and HTN has additive effects on markers of carotid atherosclerosis. Because early markers of carotid atherosclerosis predict future cardiovascular events, including not only stroke but also myocardial infarction, these findings may help to explain the increased risk of cardiovascular disease in patients with OSA.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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