We investigated the association between obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) and subclinical cardiac organ damage through a meta-analysis of echocardiographic studies that provided data on left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH), assessed as a categorical or continuous variable.
The PubMed, OVID-MEDLINE, and Cochrane library databases were systematically analyzed to search English-language articles published from 1 January 2000 to 15 August 2019. Studies were detected by using the following terms: ‘obstructive sleep apnea’, ‘sleep quality’, ‘sleep disordered breathing’, ‘cardiac damage’, ‘left ventricular mass’, ‘left ventricular hypertrophy’, and ‘echocardiography’.
Meta-analysis included 5550 patients with OSA and 2329 non-OSA controls from 39 studies. The prevalence of LVH in the pooled OSA population was 45% (CI 35--55%). Meta-analysis of studies comparing the prevalence of LVH in participants with OSA and controls showed that OSA was associated with an increased risk of LVH (OR = 1.70, CI 1.44–2.00, P < 0.001). LV mass was significantly increased in patients with severe OSA as compared with controls (SMD 0.46 ± 0.08, CI 0.29–0.62, P < 0.001) or with mild OSA. This was not the case for studies comparing patients with unselected or predominantly mild OSA and controls (0.33 ± 0.17, CI −0.01 to 0.67, P = 0.057).
The present meta-analysis expands previous information on the relationship between OSA and echocardiographic LVH, so far based on individual studies. The overall evidence strongly suggests that the likelihood of LVH increases with the severity of OSA, thus exhibiting a continuous relationship.