Sleep Apnea and Hypertension
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a recognized cause of secondary hypertension. OSA episodes produce surges in systolic and diastolic pressure that keep mean blood pressure levels elevated at night.
30-40% of Americans with high blood pressure also have sleep apnea. The increase in blood pressure is caused by falling oxygen levels alerting the brain to sends signals through the nervous system telling the blood vessels to constrict in order to increase the flow of oxygen to the heart and the brain.
Approximately 80% of patients that do not respond to hypertensive medications have sleep apnea. Researchers have found that obstructive sleep apnea is most common among middle-aged adults 30–70 years old and occurs more frequently in men than women. Many patients with sleep apnea and/or high blood pressure are obese. This can help explain why many patients are affected by both conditions.
Furthermore, research suggests that anywhere from 30–50% of patients with high blood pressure have sleep apnea. However, sleep apnea is much more common in patients with resistant hypertension.
Resistant hypertension is when patients have tried a variety of high blood pressure medications but can’t get their blood pressure under control. Resistant hypertension is a major public health issue, as uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to serious complications.
The good news is that treatment for sleep apnea may aid in lowering blood pressure levels.