Arterial stiffness increases during obstructive sleep apneas

Sanja Jelic, Matthew N. Bartels, Jason H. Mateika, Pakkay Ngai, Ronald E. DeMeersman, Robert C. Basner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


Study Objectives: Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) appears to be an independent risk factor for diurnal systemic hypertension, but the specific biologic markers for this association have not been well established. Increased arterial stiffness is an important measure of increased left ventricular load and a predictor of cardiovascular morbidity and may precede the onset of systemic hypertension in humans. However, arterial stiffness has not been measured in association with obstructive apneas in patients with OSA, nor related to systemic blood pressure (BP) activity in this setting. Our objective was to test the hypothesis that arterial stiffness may be utilized as a sensitive measure of arterial vasomotor perturbation during obstructive events in patients with OSA, by demonstrating that (1) arterial stiffness increases acutely in association with obstructive apnea and hypopnea, and that (2) such increased stiffness may occur in the absence of acute BP increase. Design: Prospective, cross-sectional. Setting: A tertiary-care university-based sleep and ventilatory disorders center. Patients: Forty-four normo- and hypertensive adult patients (11 women, 33 men) with polysomnographically diagnosed moderate to severe OSA. Interventions: N/A. Measurements and Results: Beat-to-beat BP was recorded from the radial artery by applanation tonometry during nocturnal polysomnography. Arterial augmentation index (AAI), a measure of arterial stiffness, was calculated as the ratio of augmented systolic BP (SBP) to pulse pressure and expressed as a percentage for the following conditions: awake, the first 10 ("early apnea") and last 10 ("late apnea") cardiac cycles of obstructive events, and the first 15 cardiac cycles following apnea termination ("post apnea"). Mean AAI (±SD) for the group was significantly increased during NREM sleep from early apnea to late apnea (12.02 ± 2.70% vs 13.35 ± 3.54%, p<0.05, ANOVA). During REM (analyzed in 20 patients), AAI again significantly increased from early apnea to late apnea (11.75 ± 2.81% vs 13.43 ± 4.97%). Conversely, neither mean SBP nor mean arterial BP was significantly changed from early apnea to late apnea in NREM (SBP 130 ± 14 mmHg vs 129 ± 14 mmHg) or REM (SBP 128 ± 22 mmHg vs 127± 21 mmHg). Conclusions: Arterial stiffness increases acutely during obstructive apneas in both NREM and REM sleep, in the absence of measurable BP change. These data suggest that arterial stiffness may be a sensitive measure of acute arterial vasomotor perturbation in this setting and may have implications concerning cardiovascular sequelae in patients with OSA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)850-855
Number of pages6
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 15 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Arterial augmentation index
  • Blood pressure
  • Sleep apnea

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)


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