What Do Sleep Apnea and Preeclampsia Have in Common?
The world of biochemical markers is a woolly one, fraught with false positives and meaningless correlations. To say that one thing is “associated” with another is quite different from proving cause and effect. But correlations can teach us things nonetheless, pointing the way toward common etiologies and intertwined physical processes.
All of which is prelude to a new discovery this week: scientists have determined that hypertension from sleep apnea shares something with preeclampsia. As researchers at Yale recently announced:
Mohensin and co-author Dr. Behrouz Jafari of the University of California-Irvine found subjects with sleep apnea and hypertension had damage to cells lining blood vessels, whether or not oxygen levels were lowered. Those with hypertension also had elevated levels of soluble endoglin in their blood, which are known to cause hypertension in women with pre-eclampsia.
It is an interesting correlation: one blood protein circulates more freely in people with certain hypertensive disorders, even when the underlying causes are different. The notion that preeclampsia and apnea create similar effects is yet another “wake up call” – no pun intended – that obstructive sleep apnea is a dangerous and wide-ranging medical disorder.
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