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Vasc Med. 2009 Nov;14(4):351-60. doi: 10.1177/1358863X09105132.

Brachial artery diameter, blood flow and flow-mediated dilation in sleep-disordered breathing.

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Department of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, The Pulmonary Center, VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, MA 02118, USA.


Clinic-based, case-control studies linked sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) to markers of endothelial dysfunction. We attempted to validate this association in a large community-based sample, and evaluate the relation of SDB to arterial diameter and peripheral blood flow. This community-based, cross-sectional observational study included 327 men and 355 women, aged 42-83 years, from the Framingham Heart Study site of the Sleep Heart Health Study. The polysomnographically derived apnea-hypopnea index and the hypoxemia index (percent sleep time with oxyhemoglobin saturation below 90%) were used to quantify the severity of SDB. Brachial artery ultrasound measurements included baseline diameter, percent flow-mediated dilation, and baseline and hyperemic flow velocity and volume. The baseline brachial artery diameter was significantly associated with both the apnea-hypopnea index and the hypoxemia index. The association was diminished by adjustment for body mass index, but remained significant for the apnea-hypopnea index. Age-, sex-, race- and body mass index-adjusted mean diameters were 4.32, 4.33, 4.33, 4.56, 4.53 mm for those with apnea-hypopnea index < 1.5, 1.5-4.9, 5-14.9, 15-29.9, >/= 30, respectively; p = 0.03. Baseline flow measures were associated with the apnea-hypopnea index but this association was non-significant after adjusting for body mass index. No significant association was observed between measures of SDB and percent flow-mediated dilation or hyperemic flow in any model. In conclusion, this study supports a moderate association of SDB and larger baseline brachial artery diameter, which may reflect SDB-induced vascular remodeling. This study does not support a link between SDB and endothelial dysfunction as measured by brachial artery flow-mediated dilation.

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