Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Although previous echocardiographic studies have demonstrated short-term improvement in cardiovascular remodeling in patients with OSA receiving continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy, a long-term study incorporating cardiac biomarkers, echocardiography, and cardiac MRI (CMR) has not been performed to date.
A prospective study of 47 patients with OSA was performed between 2007 and 2010. Cardiac biomarkers, including C-reactive protein (CRP), N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP), and troponin T (TnT), were measured at baseline and serially over 1 year. All patients underwent baseline and serial transthoracic echocardiography (TTE) and CMR to assess cardiac remodeling.
Following 12 months of CPAP therapy, levels of CRP, NT-proBNP, and TnT did not change significantly from normal baseline values. As early as 3 months after initiation of CPAP, TTE revealed an improvement in right ventricular end-diastolic diameter, left atrial volume index, right atrial volume index, and degree of pulmonary hypertension, which continued to improve over 1 year of follow-up. Finally, left ventricular mass, as determined by CMR, decreased from 159 ± 12 g/m2 to 141 ± 8 g/m2 as early as 6 months into CPAP therapy and continued to improve until completion of the study at 1 year.
Both systolic and diastolic abnormalities in patients with OSA can be reversed as early as 3 months into CPAP therapy, with progressive improvement in cardiovascular remodeling over 1 year as assessed by both TTE and CMR.