Impaired vasodilator responses in obstructive sleep apnea are improved with continuous positive airway pressure therapy

Virginia A. Imadojemu, Kevin Gleeson, Sadeq A. Quraishi, Allen R. Kunselman, Lawrence I. Sinoway, Urs A. Leuenberger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

117 Scopus citations


Obstructive sleep apnea causes cardiovascular morbidity and premature death. Potential links between sleep apnea and cardiovascular complications are chronically elevated activity of the sympathetic nervous system and abnormal vascular function. To explore vascular function, we determined the reactive hyperemic brood flow (RHBF) responses to 10 minutes of forearm arterial occlusion (plethysmography), blood pressure, and muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA, microneurography) in eight patients with sleep apnea and in nine nonapneic control subjects. Peak RHBF and vascular conductance were markedly attenuated in sleep apnea compared with control subjects (p < 0.05). Seven sleep apnea patients were retested after at least two weeks of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy. MSNA decreased after CPAP therapy (p < 0.05, n = 6), whereas blood pressure did not change. After CPAP therapy, peak RHBF and vascular conductance were increased compared with before treatment (p < 0.05; n = 7). Thus, vascular function is abnormal in sleep apnea and is improved by CPAP therapy. Furthermore, effective CPAP therapy decreases sympathetic activity in sleep apnea. Thus, sympathoexcitation and abnormal vascular function in patients with sleep apnea appear to be linked to the repetitive nocturnal apneic events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)950-953
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican journal of respiratory and critical care medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 1 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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