Peer Reviewed

Sleep Apnea

AHA: OSA Often Goes Untreated in CVD Patients

The American Heart Association has released a new scientific statement on the relationship between obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and cardiovascular disease.

“Obstructive sleep apnea can negatively impact patient’s health and increase the risk of cardiovascular events and death,” the statement authors wrote. “This statement is to encourage increased awareness, screening, and treatment as appropriate for sleep apnea.”

Within the United States, 40% to 80% of adults with cardiovascular disease also have OSA. Approximately 34% of middle-aged men and 17% of middle-aged women meet the criteria for OSA.

Individuals with cardiovascular disease or cardiovascular risk factors are at an increased risk of OSA related complications, including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart rhythm disorders such as atrial fibrillation and sudden cardiac death
  • Worsening heart failure or coronary artery disease
  • Heart attacks
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Type 2 diabetes


Obesity, large neck circumference, craniofacial abnormalities, smoking, family history, and nighttime nasal congestion are among the risk factors for OSA.

Screening for OSA is no longer limited to an overnight sleep study center, as the United States’ Food and Drug Administration has approved at home sleep devices. In addition, there are various treatment methods now available to these patients, including positional therapy, weight loss, oral appliances, surgery, and the use of a continuous positive airway pressure machine.

“Improvements in home diagnostic tools and more research on ways to identify cardiovascular risk in people with OSA are needed,” the authors concluded. “Still, the overall message is clear: we need to increase awareness about screening for and treating OSA, especially in patients with existing cardiovascular risk factors.”


—Leigh Precopio



Sleep apnea worsens heart disease, yet often untreated: American Heart Association Scientific Statement. News release. American Heart Association; June 21, 2021. Accessed June 21, 2021.