Prevalence of Sleep Apnea in Patients with Carotid Artery Stenosis

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common disease affecting about 13% of men and 6% of women, usually having severe cardiovascular sequalae. OSA is responsible for the systemic inflammatory response and oxidative stress and results in endothelial injury being a risk factor for atherosclerosis. The aim of this study was to estimate the prevalence of OSA among patients with severe carotid artery stenosis. Fifty-five patients (F/M-24/31, mean age 70 ± 7 years, body mass index 28.3 ± 6.3 kg/m2) were enrolled into the study. The patients were qualified for elective surgical treatment of carotid artery stenosis. Polysomnography was performed in all patients the night before surgery. Thirty-six patients underwent surgical endarterectomy and nineteen patients underwent carotid artery stenting. Sleep apnea was diagnosed in 44 (80%) of all patients. The mean apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) was 14.5 ± 12.9. The OSA severity distribution was as follows: 22 mild, 16 moderate, and 6 severe cases. We found that the percentage of carotid endarterectomies was the greatest in mild and moderate OSA. It was approximately twofold greater than that in non-OSA patients. Carotid artery stenting was performed in nearly half of the patients in each of these groups. We conclude that OSA is highly prevalent in patients with carotid artery stenosis scheduled for carotid surgery. Nonetheless, the exact pathogenetic mechanisms underlying mutual interaction between OSA and vascular wall damage remain elusive. OSA is not routinely diagnosed among patients with advanced atherosclerosis. The study results might be an argument for performing polysomnography in patients with carotid artery stenosis.