In a study published in Respirology, investigators identified strong associations between several measures of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) severity and higher total cholesterol, higher LDL-cholesterol, elevated triglycerides, and lower HDL-cholesterol. Lipid status was influenced by geographical location with the highest total cholesterol concentration recorded in Northern Europe.

The analysis included 8,592 adults across Europe who were not diagnosed with hyperlipidemia and were not taking lipid-lowering drugs.

“Our data clearly suggest that sleep apnea may have a negative impact on lipid levels, which may in part explain the association between sleep apnea and increased risk for cardiovascular disease,” said senior author Dr Ludger Grote, of Gothenburg University, in Sweden, in a release. “Patients with sleep apnea therefore need careful management of all cardiovascular risk factors including hyperlipidema.”