Clinical consequences of obstructive sleep apnea

Lawrence J. Epstein, J. Woodrow Weiss

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


The clinical consequences of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can be grouped in two categories: sleepiness and performance decrements and cardiovascular dysfunction. OSA patients demonstrate excessive sleepiness that causes cognitive impairments, including decrements in attention, vigilance, memory, learning abilities, and mood. As a result, OSA patients have an increased risk for motor vehicle accidents. Acute oscillations in heart rate, systemic and pulmonary pressures, and cardiac output accompany the apneic episodes due to the repetitive hypoxemia and arousals that accompany the apneas. Available evidence suggests OSA can lead to chronic systemic hypertension and, when accompanied by disorders causing waking hypoxemia, pulmonary hypertension. Establishing a causal relationship between OSA and myocardial infarction, cerebrovascular disease, or worsened mortality is more difficult because of the lack of prospective randomized trials; more investigations are needed. OSA can complicate pulmonary procedures and increase perioperative morbidity, but recognition and treatment of the disorder can decrease the risks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-132
Number of pages10
JournalSeminars in Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Hypersomnolence
  • Hypertension
  • Sleep apnea syndrome


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