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Population-Based Study of Sleep-Disordered Breathing as a Risk Factor for Hypertension

Terry Young, PhD; Paul Peppard, MS; Mari Palta, PhD; K. Mae Hla, MD; Laurel Finn, MS; Barbara Morgan, PhD; James Skatrud, MD
Arch Intern Med. 1997;157(15):1746-1752. doi:10.1001/archinte.1997.00440360178019.
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Background:  Clinical observations have linked sleepdisordered breathing, a condition of repeated apneas and hypopneas during sleep, with hypertension but evidence for an independent association has been lacking. Understanding this relationship is important because the prevalence of sleep-disordered breathing is high in adults.

Objective:  To test the hypothesis that sleep-disordered breathing is related to elevated blood pressure independent of confounding factors.

Methods:  The sample included 1060 employed women and men aged 30 through 60 years who had completed an overnight protocol as part of the Wisconsin Sleep Cohort Study. In-laboratory polysomnography was used to determine sleep-disordered breathing status, quantified as the number of apneas and hypopneas per hour of sleep (apnea-hypopnea index). Blood pressure was measured on the night polysomnography was performed.

Results:  Blood pressure increased linearly with increasing apnea-hypopnea index (P=.003 for systolic, P=.01 for diastolic, adjusted for confounding factors). The magnitude of the linear association increased with decreasing obesity. At a body mass index (weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in meters) of 30 kg/m2, an apnea-hypopnea index of 15 (vs 0) was associated with blood pressure increases of 3.6 mm Hg for systolic (95% confidence interval, 1.3-6.0) and 1.8 mm Hg for diastolic (95% confidence interval, 0.3-3.3). The odds ratio for hypertension associated with an apneahypopnea index of 15 (vs 0) was 1.8 (95% confidence interval, 1.3-2.4).

Conclusions:  There is a dose-response relationship between sleep-disordered breathing and blood pressure, independent of known confounding factors. If causal, the high prevalence of sleep-disordered breathing could account for hypertension in a substantial number of adults in the United States.Arch Intern Med. 1997;157:1746-1752

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The American Medical Association is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The AMA designates this journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM per course. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Physicians who complete the CME course and score at least 80% correct on the quiz are eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM.
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