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A Journal on Internal Medicine

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Minerva Medica 2014 February;105(1):25-40

language: English

The upper airway in sleep-disordered breathing: UA in SDB

Taranto Montemurro L. 1, Kasai T. 2, 3

1 Sleep Cardiorespiratory Disease Research Center Respiratory Physiopathology A. O. M. Mellini, Chiari, Brescia, Italy;
2 Cardio-Respiratory Sleep Medicine Juntendo University School of Medicine Tokyo, Japan;
3 Department of Cardiology Juntendo University School of Medicine Tokyo, Japan


Sleep disordered breathing (SDB) is a common condition and could be a risk factor for cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. However, the pathogenesis of SDB remains to be elucidated. In general, SDB is divided into two forms, obstructive and central sleep apnea (OSA and CSA, respectively). OSA results from the sleep-related collapse of the upper airway (UA) in association with multiple factors like race, gender, obesity and UA dimensions. CSA primarily results from a fall in PaCO2 to a level below the apnea threshold during sleep through the reflex inhibition of central respiratory drive. It has been reported that UA alterations (i.e., collapse or dilation) can be observed in CSA. This review highlights the roles of the UA in the pathogenesis and pathophysiology of SDB.

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