(HealthDay News) – Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) predicts incident sudden cardiac death (SCD), with risk magnitude predicted by OSA severity, according to a large study published online June 19 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Apoor S. Gami, MD, from Midwest Heart Specialists-Advocate Medical Group in Elmhurst, IL, and colleagues followed 10,701 consecutive adults undergoing their first diagnostic polysomnogram (between July 1987 and July 2003) for up to 15 years. Physiological data assessed included apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) and nocturnal oxygen saturation (O2sat) parameters, as well as incident-resuscitated or fatal SCD and other comorbidities.

The researchers found that over an average follow-up of 5.3 years, 142 patients had resuscitated or fatal SCD (annual rate, 0.27%). In multivariate analysis, independent risk factors for SCD were age, hypertension, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathy or heart failure, ventricular ectopy or non-sustained ventricular tachycardia, and having lowest nocturnal O2sat (per 10%, hazard ratio [HR], 1.14). Age of 60 years (HR, 5.53), AHI 20 (HR, 1.6), mean nocturnal O2sat 93% (HR, 2.93), and lowest nocturnal O2sat 78% (HR, 2.6) all significantly predicted SCD.

“The prevalence of obstructive sleep apnea in Western populations is high and will likely only continue to grow given the obesity epidemic and direct relationship between obesity and sleep apnea,” Gami said in a statement.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the medical device industry.

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