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Contempo Updates
Clinician's Corner
April 28, 2004

Risk Factors for Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Adults

Author Affiliations

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.

JAMA. 2004;291(16):2013-2016. doi:10.1001/jama.291.16.2013

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