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Open Access Research

Nasal continuous positive airway pressure improves myocardial perfusion reserve and endothelial-dependent vasodilation in patients with obstructive sleep apnea

Patricia K Nguyen1*, Chandra K Katikireddy2, Michael V McConnell1, Clete Kushida3 and Phillip C Yang1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Medicine, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA

2 Department of Medicine, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, New York University, New York, NY, USA

3 Department of Psychiatry, Stanford University Center of Excellence for Sleep Disorders, Stanford, CA, USA

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Journal of Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance 2010, 12:50  doi:10.1186/1532-429X-12-50

Published: 3 September 2010

Abstract

Background

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) has been associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD), but whether OSA is an independent risk factor for CVD is controversial. The purpose of this study is to determine if patients with OSA have subclinical cardiovascular disease that is detectable by multi-modality cardiovascular imaging and whether these abnormalities improve after nasal continuous positive airway pressure (nCPAP).

Results

Of the 35 consecutive subjects with newly diagnosed moderate to severe OSA recruited from the Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic, 20 patients were randomized to active vs. sham nCPAP. Active nCPAP was titrated to pressures that would prevent sleep disordered breathing based on inpatient polysomnography. OSA patients had baseline vascular function abnormalities including decreased myocardial perfusion reserve (MPR), brachial flow mediated dilation (FMD) and nitroglycerin-induced coronary vasodilation. Patients randomized to active nCPAP had improvement of MPR (1.5 ± 0.5 vs. 3.0 ± 1.3, p = 0.02) and brachial FMD (2.5% ± 5.7% vs. 9.0% ± 6.5%, p = 0.03) after treatment, but those randomized to sham nCPAP showed no significant improvement. There were no significant changes seen in chamber sizes, systolic and diastolic function, valvular function and coronary vasodilation to nitroglycerin.

Conclusions

Patients with moderate to severe OSA had decreased MPR and brachial FMD that improved after 3 months of nCPAP. These findings suggest that relief of apnea in OSA may improve microvascular disease and endothelial dysfunction, which may prevent the development of overt cardiovascular disease. Further study in a larger patient population may be warranted.