Obstructive sleep apnea, metabolic syndrome, and age: Will geriatricians be caught asleep on the job?

E. Paul Cherniack, Neil S. Cherniack

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is increasingly recognized in older persons as an important cause of morbidity and mortality, resulting in cardiovascular disease, cognitive dysfunction, and disturbed sleep. It has been cited as an independent risk factor for the metabolic syndrome (MS). The elevated levels of cytokines, such as interleukin-6 and tumor necrosis factor-á, which also increase with age, are a common feature of both OSA and MS. Intermittent hypoxia caused by the recurring episodes of apnea and nearap nea in OSA is a major cause of its systemic effects. Mathematical models of OSA show how obesity and anatomic changes in the upper airways, which may be age-related, interact with the networks responsible for the chemical and neural control of breathing to cause the recurrent intermittent hypoxia of sleep apnea. Treatment of OSA with continuous positive airway pressure improves some aspects of the metabolic syndrome, reduces cardiovascular morbidity, and improves domains of cognitive function. OSA is more difficult to identify in the elderly because many of its symptoms can be caused by other disorders which are common in the elderly. Clinicians who encounter OSA may be advised to search for the presence of MS, and vice versa.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalAging Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2010


  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Obstructive sleep apnea

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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