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Relationship between obstructive sleep apnea and pulmonary hypertension: past, present and future.

INTRODUCTION: Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a widely prevalent condition with consequent multiple organ systems complications. There is consensus that OSA is associated with negative effects on pulmonary hemodynamics but whether it contributes to development of clinical pulmonary hypertension (PH) is unclear.

AREAS COVERED: In this review, we (1) highlight previous studies looking into the possible bidirectional association of OSA and PH, focusing on those that explore clinical prognostic implications, (2) explore potential pathophysiology, (3) discuss the new metrics in OSA, (4) describe endo-phenotyping of OSA, (5) recommend possible risk assessment and screening pathways.

EXPERT OPINION: Relying only on symptoms to consider a sleep study in PH patients is a missed opportunity to detect OSA, which, if present and not treated, can worsen outcomes. The potential prognostic role of sleep study metrics such as oxygen desaturation index (ODI), hypoxic burden (HB) and ventilatory burden (VB) in OSA should be studied in prospective trials to identify patients at risk for PH. AHI alone has not provided clarity. In those with PH, we should consider replacing ambulatory overnight pulse oximetry (OPO) with home sleep studies (HST). In PH patients, mild OSA should be sufficient to consider PAP therapy.

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