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Impacts of comorbidities on the association between arterial stiffness and obstructive sleep apnea in the elderly.

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Although the impact of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) on cardiovascular risk is reasonably well established in middle-aged patients, the debate persists as to whether OSA also increases this risk in the elderly. Arterial stiffness has been used as an early independent predictor of cardiovascular risk.

Study objectives

We sought to determine whether OSA has significant effects on the arterial stiffness in the elderly population and evaluate the impact of comorbidities on the association between arterial stiffness and OSA.


We performed a cross-sectional study in a university hospital. Elderly participants (≥60 years) were invited to participate in our study between November 2010 and January 2013. OSA was diagnosed using gold standard polysomnography and arterial stiffness was assessed by brachial-ankle pulse wave velocity (baPWV), cardio-ankle vascular index (CAVI) and central systolic and diastolic blood pressure (cSBP and cDBP). The high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) level was also measured.


We found no significant association between the severity of OSA and the arterial stiffness-related parameters cSBP, cDBP, baPWV, CAVI and hs-CRP. However, in patients with no comorbid medical conditions or use of medications (n = 101), we showed a modest association between OSA and arterial stiffness-related parameters and hs-CRP.


We conclude that OSA is associated with increased arterial stiffness in an otherwise healthy elderly population, although the association was obviated by comorbidities and medications perhaps due to ceiling effects.

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