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Postgraduate Education Corner: CONTEMPORARY REVIEWS IN SLEEP MEDICINE |

Interactions Between Obesity and Obstructive Sleep Apnea: Implications for Treatment

Abel Romero-Corral, MD, MSc; Sean M. Caples, DO; Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, MD, MSc; Virend K. Somers, MD, PhD, FCCP
Author and Funding Information

Correspondence to: Virend K. Somers, MD, PhD, Division of Cardiovascular Diseases, Domitillia 4-350, 200 First St SW, Rochester, MN 55905; e-mail: somers.virend@mayo.edu


Funding/Support: At the time of the writing of this manuscript, Dr Romero-Corral was supported by a Postdoctoral Fellowship from the American Heart Association. Dr Caples is supported by NIH grant HL99534. Dr Lopez-Jimenez is a recipient of a Clinical Scientist Development Award from the American Heart Association. Dr Somers is supported by NIH grants HL-65176, HL-73211, and 1 UL1 RR024150, and by the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine.

Reproduction of this article is prohibited without written permission from the American College of Chest Physicians (www.chestpubs.org/site/misc/reprints.xhtml).


© 2010 American College of Chest Physicians


Chest. 2010;137(3):711-719. doi:10.1378/chest.09-0360
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Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) adversely affects multiple organs and systems, with particular relevance to cardiovascular disease. Several conditions associated with OSA, such as high BP, insulin resistance, systemic inflammation, visceral fat deposition, and dyslipidemia, are also present in other conditions closely related to OSA, such as obesity and reduced sleep duration. Weight loss has been accompanied by improvement in characteristics related not only to obesity but to OSA as well, suggesting that weight loss might be a cornerstone of the treatment of both conditions. This review seeks to explore recent developments in understanding the interactions between body weight and OSA. Weight loss helps reduce OSA severity and attenuates the cardiometabolic abnormalities common to both diseases. Nevertheless, weight loss has been hard to achieve and maintain using conservative strategies. Since bariatric surgery has emerged as an alternative treatment of severe or complicated obesity, impressive results have often been seen with respect to sleep apnea severity and cardiometabolic disturbances. However, OSA is a complex condition, and treatment cannot be limited to any single symptom or feature of the disease. Rather, a multidisciplinary and integrated strategy is required to achieve effective and long-lasting therapeutic success.

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