There is an increasing prevalence of children and adolescents with obesity causing a global health concern. While the effect of obesity on cardiovascular function has been investigated, little remains known about how it impacts obstructive sleep apnea in youth with obesity.

In a recent study from the American Journal of Cardiology, researchers looked at the influence of OSA on cardiovascular functional parameters in obese youth. The study looked at 44 obese patients and 44 age- and gender-matched control subjects. Every patient underwent polysomnography and cardiovascular assessment.

The study found that patients with obesity had:

  • Higher left ventricular (LV) mass/height 2.7,
  • Preserved LV systolic parameters.
  • Differences in LV diastolic parameters.
  • Increased PWV and systolic blood pressure at rest compared with control group.

For youth with obesity, 32 percent had obstructive sleep apnea. However, there was no correlation between obesity and the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI). The LV mass/height 2.7 significantly correlated with body mass index z-score whereas PWV correlated with AHI. The body mass index z-score for patients with obesity was an independent predictor for LV mass/height 2.7 and AHI was an independent predictor for higher PWV.

From this study we understand that both obesity and OSA influence cardiovascular performance in youth with obesity. And while obesity is associated with increased LV mass and reduced LV diastolic function, obstructive sleep apnea is associated with changes in arterial stiffness.

Add this to the list for reasons to not only treat sleep apnea, but also offer lifestyle change suggestions for children and adolescents to further prevent complications.