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Contempo Updates | Clinician's Corner

Risk Factors for Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Adults

Terry Young, PhD; James Skatrud, MD; Paul E. Peppard, PhD
JAMA. 2004;291(16):2013-2016. doi:10.1001/jama.291.16.2013.
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Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a sleep disorder characterized by intermittent complete and partial airway collapse, resulting in frequent episodes of apnea and hypopnea.1 The breathing pauses cause acute adverse effects, including oxyhemoglobin desaturation, fluctuations in blood pressure and heart rate, increased sympathetic activity, cortical arousal, and sleep fragmentation.1 The condition has received increasing attention during the past 3 decades. Until 1981, the only effective treatment for OSA was tracheostomy.2 The advent of continuous positive air pressure therapy, an effective noninvasive treatment, was a turning point, and clinical interest began to increase in tandem with the accumulation of research linking OSA to cognitive, behavioral, cardiovascular, and cerebrovascular morbidities (Figure 1).2,3

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Figure. Risk Factors, Symptoms, Outcomes, and Comorbid Conditions of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) in Adults
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*These conditions are associated with OSA. The associations may be due, in part, to common risk factors; they may also reflect a role of OSA in their etiology.

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