There is a large amount of evidence linking obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), and the associated intermittent hypoxia that accompanies it, with the development of hypertension. For example, cross-sectional studies demonstrate that the prevalence of hypertension increases with the severity of OSA (Bixler et al., 2000; Grote et al., 2001) and an initial determination of OSA is associated with a three-fold increase for future hypertension (Peppard et al., 2000). Interestingly, bouts of intermittent hypoxia have also been shown to affect sympathetic output associated with the baroreflex and chemoreflex, important mechanisms in the regulation of arterial blood pressure. As such, the possibility exists that changes in the baroreflex and chemoreflex may contribute to the development of chronic hypertension observed in OSA patients. The aim of the current article is to briefly review the response of the baroreflex and chemoreflex to intermittent hypoxic exposure and to evaluate evidence for the hypothesis that modification of these autonomic reflexes may, at least in part, support the comorbidity observed between chronic hypertension and OSA.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
- Clinical Neurology
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience