Background: The pathogenesis of daytime hypercapnia (Paco2 ≥ 45 mm Hg) may be directly linked to the existence of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) per se, although only some patients with OSAS exhibit daytime hypercapnia.
Objective: To investigate the prevalence of daytime hypercapnia in patients with OSAS; the association of daytime hypercapnia and obesity, obstructive airflow limitation, restrictive lung impairment, and severity of sleep apnea; and the response to continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy in a subset of subjects.
Methods: The study involved 1,227 patients with OSAS who visited a sleep clinic and were examined using polysomnography. As for the response to CPAP therapy, the patients were considered good responders if their daytime Paco2 decreased ≥ 5 mm Hg and poor responders if it decreased < 5 mm Hg.
Results: Fourteen percent (168 of 1,227 patients) exhibited daytime hypercapnia. These patients had significantly higher body mass index (BMI) and apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) values compared with normocapnic patients, while percentage of predicted vital capacity (%VC) and FEV1/FVC ratio did not differ between the two groups. Logistic regression analysis showed that only AHI was a predictor of daytime hypercapnia (p < 0.0001), while BMI (p = 0.051) and %VC (p = 0.062) were borderline predictors of daytime hypercapnia. Daytime hypercapnia was corrected in some patients (51%, 19 of 37 patients) with severe OSAS after 3 months of CPAP therapy.
Conclusion: The pathogenesis of daytime hypercapnia may be directly linked to sleep apnea in a subgroup of patients with OSAS.