Obesity hypoventilation syndrome—the big and the breathless

Amanda J Piper
Sleep Medicine Reviews 2011, 15 (2): 79-89
Daytime hypercapnia that develops in morbidly obese individuals in the absence of concurrent lung or neuromuscular disease is referred to as the obesity hypoventilation syndrome (OHS). The characteristic polysomnographic (PSG) abnormality is marked sleep hypoxemia. Although the likelihood of hypoventilation increases with increasing body mass index (BMI), it is too simplistic to think of this disorder arising merely from chest wall restriction due to excess weight. Rather, this is a disorder which emerges when the compensatory mechanisms that normally operate to maintain ventilation appropriate for the level of obesity are impaired. OHS develops from a complex interaction between abnormal respiratory function, sleep disordered breathing and diminished respiratory drive. Irrespective of the mechanisms underlying the development of this disorder, early recognition of the problem and institution of effective therapy is important to reduce the significant clinical and societal repercussions of OHS. While therapy directed at improving sleep disordered breathing is effective in reversing daytime respiratory failure, it is not universally successful and information regarding longer term clinical outcomes is limited. Attention to weight reduction strategies are also necessary to reduce comorbid conditions and improve quality of life, but data regarding how successful and sustained this is in obesity hypoventilation are sparse.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Related Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.


Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"

We want to hear from doctors like you!

Take a second to answer a survey question.