Obstructive sleep apnea and cardiovascular disease in blacks: A call to action from the Association of Black Cardiologists

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Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) has emerged as a new and important risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD). Over the last decade, epidemiologic and clinical research has consistently supported the association of OSA with increased cardiovascular (CV) morbidity and mortality. Such evidence prompted the American Heart Association to issue a scientific statement describing the need to recognize OSA as an important target for therapy in reducing CV risk. Emerging facts suggest that marked racial differences exist in the association of OSA with CVD. Although both conditions are more prevalent in blacks, almost all National Institutes of Health–funded research projects evaluating the relationship between OSA and CV risk have been conducted in predominantly white populations. There is an urgent need for research studies investigating the CV impact of OSA among high-risk minorities, especially blacks. This article first examines the evidence supporting the association between OSA and CVD and reviews the influence of ethnic/racial differences on this association. Public health implications of OSA and future directions, especially regarding minority populations, are discussed.

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