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Early Cardiovascular Damage Seen in Sleep Apnea

THURSDAY, Dec. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with moderate-to-severe obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) have endothelial dysfunction and arterial stiffness similar to patients with diabetes, indicative of an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, according to a study presented at the European Society of Cardiology's EUROECHO & other Imaging Modalities 2012, held from Dec. 5 to 8 in Athens, Greece.

Raluca Mincu, M.D., from the Carol Davila University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Bucharest, Romania, and colleagues assessed endothelial function using flow mediated dilation, and arterial function using intima media-thickness (IMT), e-tracking, and wave intensity in 60 participants (nine women), including 20 patients with moderate-to-severe OSA without diabetes, 20 patients with treated type 2 diabetes, and 20 controls.

The researchers found that patients with OSA and diabetes had similar endothelial dysfunction and arterial stiffness. Compared to the controls, both OSA patients and those with diabetes had significantly higher IMT, higher young elastic modulus, and beta stiffness index. Arterial compliance was significantly lower in OSA patients and those with diabetes compared to the controls, as was flow mediated dilation.

"Patients should realize that behind snoring there can be a serious cardiac pathology and they should get referred to a sleep specialist," Mincu said in a statement. "If they are diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, they are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease and need to adopt a heart healthy lifestyle to reduce that risk."

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