More than two-thirds of patients with asymptomatic carotid stenosis are likely have sleep apnea, according to an observational study.
The polysomnography results of 96 patients with asymptomatic extracranial carotid stenosis revealed that 69% had sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea was present in 42% of patients and central sleep apnea in 27%.
Stenosis severity was significantly associated with central sleep apnea, but not with obstructive sleep apnea. Researchers found that central sleep apnea, but not obstructive sleep apnea, was associated with arterial hypertension and diabetes mellitus in those patients with asymptomatic carotid stenosis (CHEST 2015;147:1029-1036 [doi:10.1378/chest.14-1655]).
The patients ranged in age from 39 to 86 years (mean age, 70 years); 64 were men. Of the 96 patients, 21 had mild/moderate stenosis and 75 had severe carotid stenosis. Patients with severe stenosis were older, average age 67 years, than were those with mild/moderate stenosis, average age 61 years. The frequency of arterial hypertension and diabetes mellitus was higher in the severe stenosis group than in the mild/moderate stenosis group.
The prevalence of sleep apnea was 76% in patients with severe stenosis compared with 29% in those with mild/moderate carotid stenosis. Total apnea-hypopnea index was higher in the severe stenosis group compared with the mild/moderate stenosis group (P less than or equal to .009). Increase in sleep apnea severity was based on an increase in central apnea-hypopnea index (P less than or equal to .001) but not in obstructive apnea-hypopnea index, reflecting an augmentation of central sleep apnea and not of obstructive sleep apnea in patients with severe compared with mild/moderate carotid stenosis.
“This vascular risk constellation seems to be more strongly connected with CSA [central sleep apnea] than with OSA [obstructive sleep apnea], possibly attributable to carotid chemoreceptor dysfunction,” wrote Dr. Jens Ehrhardt and colleagues at Jena University Hospital, Germany.
No conflicts of interest were declared.