Quebec Respiratory Health Network

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Obstructive sleep apnea and cardiovascular morbidity factors

Repeated occurrences, during sleep, of complete or partial obstruction of upper airways

Banal symptoms for a genuine problem

Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome is characterized by routine symptoms (snoring, sleepiness, nighttime voiding, high blood pressure) related to complete (apnea) or partial (hypopneas) iterative obstructions of the upper airways.

Apneas are the source of hypoxia, hypercapnia and respiratory efforts followed by a brief salutary awakening. Airway instability is sustained by anatomical (narrow pharynx) and neurophysiological factors. Dilator muscles of the pharynx, which oppose the negative pressure generated by the diaphragm during inspiration, are in effect controlled differently during wakefulness and sleep.

This prevalent disease, only recently identified, affects more readily middle-aged, overweight men. It remains under evaluated despite accrued mortality and morbidity from cardiovascular illnesses as well as work and highway related accidents.

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