Trending Clinical Topics for May 2019

Ryan Syrek

Disclosures

May 31, 2019

Trending Clinical Topic of the Week (May 18-24): Sleep Apnea

News about associations with other serious conditions and important risk factors helped make sleep apnea this week's top trending clinical topic. Results of a new study indicate that patients who undergo major noncardiac surgery and have undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) may be at increased risk for cardiovascular events. Patients with severe OSA experienced a composite of myocardial injury, cardiac death, congestive heart failure, thromboembolism, atrial fibrillation, and stroke at higher rates than those with moderate, mild, or no OSA. Although further studies are needed to assess strategies for possible intervention, the results suggest that preoperative screening for OSA may help identify patients at greater risk for complications.

Beyond cardiovascular concerns, a new study suggests that OSA may play a role in tau accumulation in the brain, which increases the risk for Alzheimer disease. Cognitively normal older adults with OSA were found to have an elevated tau PET signal in the entorhinal cortex. Participants with OSA were found to have an average of 4.5% higher levels of tau in this region. Further investigation is needed to determine whether treatment of OSA may prevent or impair the accumulation of tau or whether increased tau levels predispose to OSA in elderly patients.

OSA may also be a significant contributor to fatigue in individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS). Fatigue is among the most common and disabling symptoms in MS. The possibility that undiagnosed OSA may be a major contributor could be an avenue to alleviating the severity of fatigue. Of course, part of the problem is that OSA remains difficult to diagnose. As a recent commentary explained, some criteria used for diagnosis may not be helpful and may actually further complicate assessment of the condition. Given the potential associations of OSA with various serious conditions, discussion about how best to diagnose and treat it is likely to keep this subject trending.

Read more information on sleep apnea.

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