Medical researchers need to undertake large-scale studies to determine the exact relationship between heart disease and the different forms of sleep apnea, according to a joint statement from the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology.
“There have been a number of studies on sleep apnea in the last decade, and those looking at cardiovascular diseases and their associations with sleep apnea are especially compelling,” says Virend K. Somers, MD, D.Phil, chair of the joint statement writing committee. “We feel it is important to alert the cardiovascular community to the implications of this emerging area of research. It is possible that diagnosing and treating sleep apnea may prove to be an important opportunity to advance our efforts at preventing and treating heart disease.”
The statement, published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, states that the area of study between sleep apnea and cardiovascular disease is in need of “a substantially expanded knowledge base.”
Calling for large-scale studies to determine the exact relationship between heart disease and sleep apnea, the statement was issued as a result of the rising levels of obesity and the widespread prevalence of sleep apnea.
“We need to more clearly define the cause and effect relationship between sleep apnea and cardiovascular diseases and risk factors,” says Somers. “There is evidence that sleep apnea may be a cause of some cases of high blood pressure, but for other cardiovascular conditions, the evidence is largely circumstantial.”
The full statement can be found here.