Sleep disordered breathing is a syndrome that ranges from simple snoring, changes in airway resistance, and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
OSA is a multisystem disorder with an unstable airway during sleep. This leads to repetitive upper airway obstruction and oxygen desaturation, arousals, snoring and altered physiologic alteration. OSA has been linked with cardiovascular complications and sudden death. OSA is not only associated with increased prevalence of myocardial infarction, cerebral, vascular accidents and hypertension but also with performance degradation in activity of daily living. Passengers with sleep breathing disorders (SBD) are particularly vulnerable to severe physiological consequences of air travel. Sleep deprivation due to long flight time may enhance the adverse physiologic effects of OSA.
It is reasonable to assume that multiple time zone changes combined with oxygen starvation resulting from many occurrences of apnea at night, both inhibit arousal mechanisms and may result in oxygen deprivation. In patient with OSA the degree of hypoxia during commercial flight travel remain unknown.
Last date updated on June, 2014