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Sleep-Disordered Breathing and Resistant Hypertension

      Summary

      Hypertension is a highly prevalent problem worldwide, affecting at least one third of the adult general population. Although the exact prevalence is uncertain, it is estimated that at least 15% to 20% of individuals with hypertension have resistant hypertension. Resistant hypertension has been shown to predict more adverse cardiovascular and renal outcomes. In 2003, the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation and Treatment of High Blood Pressure recognized obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) as an important cause of secondary hypertension. A large body of epidemiologic evidence has linked OSA to resistant hypertension, nondipping nocturnal blood pressure, as well as target organ damage, including left ventricular hypertrophy, arterial stiffness, and microalbuminuria. The importance of OSA as a risk factor for the development of hypertension independent of other confounding factors also was observed in a prospective longitudinal study. More importantly, OSA predicts an increased risk of adverse cardiovascular outcomes, mortality, and sudden cardiac death. This article discusses the associations between OSA and resistant hypertension and reviews the latest understanding on the pathophysiologic mechanisms of hypertension in OSA. Nocturnal continuous positive airway pressure therapy is regarded as the standard treatment for OSA. Prospective randomized controlled trials and meta-analyses of prospective randomized controlled trials within the past 10 years that have examined the effects of continuous positive airway pressure therapy on blood pressure control in patients with OSA with or without hypertension are reviewed and summarized. The majority of the trials suggest a modest but significant benefit on blood pressure control with continuous positive airway pressure therapy. Whether continuous positive airway pressure therapy may improve hard outcomes of patients with OSA and resistant hypertension warrants further investigation.

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