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REVIEW  CARDIOVASCULAR PREVENTION AND REHABILITATION: COST-EFFECTIVE AND UNDERUTILIZED TOOLS 

Panminerva Med 2021 June;63(2):133-45

DOI: 10.23736/S0031-0808.21.04273-7

Copyright © 2021 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: English

Sleep apnea, “the Ugly Duckling of the Cinderellas” in cardiovascular prevention and rehabilitation

Carlos A. RIVAS-ECHEVERRÍA 1, 2 , Celeste THIRLWELL 3, Lizmar I. MOLINA 4, Francklin I. RIVAS 5, Racely E. SÁNCHEZ 2, Solange B. GONZÁLEZ 2, Carlos A. RIVAS 6

1 The Glenfield Surgery, NHS, Leicester, UK; 2 SLEEPCARE Clinic of Respiratory and Sleep Medicine, Soria, Spain; 3 Sleep Wake Awareness Program (SWAP), Toronto, Canada; 4 Salud Castilla y León, Soria, Spain; 5 Department of Information Technology, Federico Santa María Technical University, Valparaíso, Chile; 6 Faculty of Medicine, University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain



Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death and account for the largest share of health expenditure worldwide, mainly invested in hospital and secondary care. Prevention and rehabilitation strategies are nearly neglected, therefore “the Cinderellas,” in the health-care budget. The World Health Organization has proposed cost-effective interventions to reduce the impact of cardiovascular diseases that include polydrug treatment for hypertension and diabetes, counselling, diet, exercise, and others. Obstructive sleep apnea is not even mentioned among these interventions; consequently, it could be “the Ugly Duckling of the Cinderellas.” Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is characterized by the presence of obstructive apneas or hypopneas during sleep, accompanied by hypoxia; and it is a highly prevalent but under-diagnosed condition. Although awareness of sleep apnea has recently increased most facts about it remains ignored by many. Robust evidence suggests that OSA is associated with, or is an independent risk factor for, hypertension, cerebrovascular disease, ischemic heart disease, heart failure and arrhythmias and that its prevalence among some of these cardiovascular diseases is higher than 80%. The efficacy of continuous positive airway pressure treatment for obstructive sleep apnea has been established. If obstructive sleep apnea plays a significant role in cardiovascular diseases, then screening and timely appropriate treatment could reduce morbidity and mortality. Thus, the public health and economic impact of these conditions could be included in the “best buy” list of interventions. This narrative review discusses the relationship between OSA and cardiovascular diseases and how neglected the link is.


KEY WORDS: Obstructive sleep apnea; Cardiovascular diseases; Continuous positive airway pressure; Prevention and control; Cost of illness; Neglected diseases

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