Electrocardiographic Associations Seen with Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Author Department

Internal Medicine; Medicine

Document Type

Article, Peer-reviewed

Publication Date




Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a chronic respiratory disorder associated with repeated nocturnal partial or complete collapse that is often underdiagnosed and associated with multiple comorbidities. The association between specific features on an electrocardiogram and OSA has not been well studied. This retrospective study attempts to bridge this gap in knowledge.


A total of 265 patients' medical records were reviewed retrospectively. Specific features of their electrocardiograms and their association with the severity of OSA were studied from April 2014 to May 2016. 215 patients were included in the final analysis. Tests of group difference between OSA patients and controls were done using student's t-tests for continuous variables and using chi-square tests for categorical outcomes. Multivariate tests of differences between OSA and control patients were done using logistic regression to control for possible confounding factors.


A total of 215 patients with diagnosed OSA and 41 controls in whom OSA was ruled out using polysomnography were compared. Males were more likely to present with OSA than females (93 % versus 76 %; p < 0.001). OSA patients were also significantly older: 52.18 ± 14.04 versus 44.55 ± 14.64; p = 0.002. Deep S waves in V5-6 (p=0.014) and RS pattern with Deep S waves in leads I and AVF (p=0.017) were both significantly associated with OSA based on univariate comparisons. These findings lost significance in the multivariate analysis.


The idea of using an electrocardiogram in aiding in the assessment of OSA is attractive and feasible, as it is a safe, noninvasive, and cost-effective method. Our results can be used for early risk stratification in patients with OSA.