SAN ANTONIO – Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in children is associated with an abnormal metabolic profile, but not with body mass index (BMI), according to new research.
“Screening for metabolic dysfunction in obese children with obstructive sleep apnea can help identify those at risk for cardiovascular complications,”, of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, both in New York, told attendees at the annual meeting of the American College of Chest Physicians. Dr. Mathur explained that no consensus currently exists regarding routine cardiac evaluation of children with OSA.
“The American Academy of Pediatrics does not mention any sort of cardiac evaluation in children with OSA while the most recent guidelines from the American Heart Association and the American Thoracic Society recommend echocardiographic evaluation in children with severe obstructive sleep apnea, specifically to evaluate for pulmonary hypertension and right ventricular dysfunction,” Dr. Mathur told attendees.
OSA’s association with obesity, diabetes, and hypertension is well established in adults. It is an independent risk factor for coronary artery disease, heart failure, stroke and atrial fibrillation, and research has suggested OSA treatment can reduce cardiovascular risk in adults, Dr. Mathur explained, but little data on children exist. She and her colleagues set out to understand the relationship of OSA in children with various measures of cardiovascular and metabolic health.
“Despite similar degrees of obesity and systemic blood pressure, pediatric patients with OSA had significantly higher diastolic blood pressure, heart rate, and abnormal metabolic profile, including elevated alanine transaminase, aspartate transaminase, triglycerides and hemoglobin A1c,” they found.
Their study included patients aged 3-21 years with a BMI of at least the 95th percentile who had undergone sleep study and an echocardiogram at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore between November 2016 and November 2017.
They excluded those with comorbidities related to cardiovascular morbidity: heart disease, neuromuscular disease, sickle cell disease, rheumatologic diseases, significant cranial facial abnormalities, tracheostomy, and any lung disease. However, 7% of the patients had trisomy 21.
Among the 81 children who met their criteria, 37 were male and 44 were female, with an average age of 14 years old and a mean BMI of 39.4 kg/m2 (mean BMI z score of 2.22). Most of the patients (53.1%) had severe OSA (of at least 10), 21% had moderate OSA (AHI 5-9.9), 12.3% had mild OSA (AHI 2-4.9), and 13.6% did not have OSA. The median AHI of the children was 10.3.
Among all the children, “about half had elevated systolic blood pressure, which is already a risk factor for cardiovascular morbidity,” Mathur reported.
BMI, BMI z score, systolic blood pressure z score, oxygen saturation and cholesterol (overall and both HDL and LDL cholesterol levels) did not significantly differ between children who had OSA and those who did not, but diastolic blood pressure and heart rate did. Those with OSA had a diastolic blood pressure of 65 mm Hg, compared with 58 mm Hg without OSA (P = .008). Heart rate was 89 bpm in the children with OSA, compared with 78 bpm in those without (P = .004).
The children with OSA also showed higher mean levels of several other metabolic biomarkers: