Background and Objectives: Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common disorder with an increased risk for left ventricular and right ventricular dysfunction. Most studies to date have examined populations with manifest cardiovascular disease using echocardiography to analyze ventricular dysfunction with little or no reference to ventricular volumes or myocardial mass. Our aim was to explore these parameters with cardiac MRI. We hypothesized that there would be stepwise increase in left ventricular mass and right ventricular volumes from the unaffected, to the snoring and the OSA group. Materials and Methods: We analyzed cardiac MRI data from 4978 UK Biobank participants free from cardiovascular disease. Participants were allocated into three cohorts: with OSA, with self-reported snoring and without OSA or snoring (n = 118, 1886 and 2477). We analyzed cardiac parameters from balanced cine-SSFP sequences and indexed them to body surface area. Results: Patients with OSA were mostly males (47.3% vs. 79.7%; p < 0.001) with higher body mass index (25.7 ± 4.0 vs. 31.3 ± 5.3 kg/m²; p < 0.001) and higher blood pressure (135 ± 18 vs. 140 ± 17 mmHg; p = 0.012) compared to individuals without OSA or snoring. Regression analysis showed a significant effect for OSA in left ventricular end-diastolic index (LVEDVI) (β = -4.9 ± 2.4 mL/m²; p = 0.040) and right ventricular end-diastolic index (RVEDVI) (β = -6.2 ± 2.6 mL/m²; p = 0.016) in females and for right ventricular ejection fraction (RVEF) (β = 1.7 ± 0.8%; p = 0.031) in males. A significant effect was discovered in snoring females for left ventricular mass index (LVMI) (β = 3.5 ± 0.9 g/m²; p < 0.001) and in males for left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) (β = 1.0 ± 0.3%; p = 0.001) and RVEF (β = 1.2 ± 0.3%; p < 0.001). Conclusion: Our study suggests that OSA is highly underdiagnosed and that it is an evolving process with gender specific progression. Females with OSA show significantly lower ventricular volumes while males with snoring show increased ejection fractions which may be an early sign of hypertrophy. Separate prospective studies are needed to further explore the direction of causality.
cardiac MRI, epidemiology, heart, sleep apnea, Biological Specimen Banks, Female, Humans, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy, Male, Prospective Studies, Snoring, Stroke Volume, United Kingdom, Ventricular Function, Left, Ventricular Function, Right