Author Affiliations: Department of Population Health Sciences, University of Wisconsin (Drs Young and Peppard); Department of Medicine, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine (Dr Skatrud), Madison.
Contempo Updates Section Editor: Catherine
Meyer, MD, Fishbein Fellow.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a sleep disorder characterized by intermittent
complete and partial airway collapse, resulting in frequent episodes of apnea
and hypopnea.1 The breathing pauses cause acute
adverse effects, including oxyhemoglobin desaturation, fluctuations in blood
pressure and heart rate, increased sympathetic activity, cortical arousal,
and sleep fragmentation.1 The condition has
received increasing attention during the past 3 decades. Until 1981, the only
effective treatment for OSA was tracheostomy.2 The
advent of continuous positive air pressure therapy, an effective noninvasive
treatment, was a turning point, and clinical interest began to increase in
tandem with the accumulation of research linking OSA to cognitive, behavioral,
cardiovascular, and cerebrovascular morbidities (Figure 1).2,3
Young T, Skatrud J, Peppard PE. Risk Factors for Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Adults. JAMA. 2004;291(16):2013–2016. doi:10.1001/jama.291.16.2013