Early Life Sleep Apnea Could Lead To Cardiovascular Disease

Sleep apnea during early childhood might greatly increase the risk of later life cardiovascular disease, according to a recent Israeli study. The study found that the condition often starts early in life, enhancing the importance of the findings.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is characterized by irregular breathing during sleep, where during certain times (apnea’s), at least one breath is missed. This continued process can lower blood oxygen levels, and as is shown in this and past studies, can help lead to dangerous cardiovascular problems. The condition is diagnosed by a testing procedure called polysomnography.

70 young children between 12 and 26 months old, all with confirmed OSA, were analyzed in the study. It was found that 46 of the children had high levels of N Terminal pro B type Natriuretic Peptide (NTproBNP) and C Reactive Protein (CRP), both closely associated with cardiovascular disease in older children and adults.

There is little in the form of treatment of OSA in young children, and these findings show a greater importance of finding a treatment. “OSA starts from the first year of life,” says Dr. Aviv Goldbart, lead researcher for the study. Dr. Goldbart concludes that “Increased levels of CRP in children with OSA may require cardiovascular assessment. But further studies are needed first to determine the need to diagnose and treat OSA at a very young age.”

Source: Defeat Diabetes Foundation: Goldbert, Aviv. Savoie, Keely. American Thoracic Society news release. May 2008.