Complications of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

The most obvious complication arising from OSA is diminished quality of life brought on by chronic sleep deprivation and symptoms of the condition.

Coronary artery disease, cerebral vascular accident (stroke), heart attack, and congestive heart failure are being evaluated to define the exact nature of their connection to OSA. Some linkage between OSA and coronary artery disease, heart attack, and stroke has been demonstrated, although it is still uncertain whether OSA leads to an increased risk for these conditions or if both OSA and cardiovascular problems are caused by a common problem, such as obesity.

Obstructive sleep apnea aggravates congestive heart failure by placing stress on the heart during sleep. There is a high prevalence of OSA in patients with congestive heart failure. Congestive heart failure patients also may have central sleep apnea, a condition in which the brain signals the patient to stop breathing for short periods of time.

Recent studies have indicated that there may be a link between OSA and complications following surgery. Post-surgical complications may result from disruptions in breathing caused by obstructive sleep apnea.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 30 Nov 2000

Last Modified: 06 Oct 2015