Rationale: Sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) occurring primarily during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep is a common clinical problem. The natural history of REM-related SDB and the associated cardiovascular sequelae of disease progression remain to be determined. Objectives: The objective of the current study was to describe the natural history of REM-related SDB, ascertain predictors of progression, and determine whether the evolution of REM-related SDB into non-REM (NREM) sleep is associated with incident cardiovascular events. Methods: Participants from the Sleep Heart Health Study with a baseline NREM apnea-hypopnea index (NREM-AHI) of ,5 events/h and data from a follow-up sleep study along with information on incident cardiovascular disease were included in the study. Bivariate logistic regression was used to jointly model the predictors of disease progression based on the presence or absence of SDB during NREM and REM sleep using a cut-point of 5 events/h. Explanatory variables such as age, race, body mass index (BMI), change in BMI, and baseline REM-AHI were considered. Proportional hazards regression was then used to establish whether the development of SDB during NREM sleep was associated with incident cardiovascular disease. Results: The majority of the 1,908 participants included in the study did not develop SDB during NREM sleep. The likelihood of progression of SDB into NREM sleep did increase with higher baseline REM-AHI. BMI and an increase in BMI predicted progression of SDB in both NREM and REM sleep in men but not in women. There was a strong interdependence between developing a NREM-AHI of >5 events/h and worsening REM-AHI at follow-up with odds ratios of 6.01 and 4.47, in women and men, respectively. Moreover, the relative risk for incident cardiovascular events among those who developed a NREM-AHI of >5 events/h at the follow-up visit was elevated only in women with REM-related SDB at baseline. Conclusions: SDB during REM sleep is a relatively stable condition and does not progress in the majority of individuals. Progression of SDB into NREM sleep is associated with sex, weight, and age. SDB during REM and NREM sleep tends to develop concurrently. Finally, the development of SDB during NREM sleep is associated with incident cardiovascular events, but only in women with REM-related SDB at baseline.
- Cardiovascular disease
- Rem sleep
- Sleep apnea
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine