Historical changes in perspective of the etiology, pathophysiology and treatment of obstructive sleep apnea

Main Article Content

Joseph Michael Gabriel


Obstructive sleep apnea, History of Respiratory Sleep Medicine, Pickwick Syndrome, CPAP


NOTE: This is a History of Medicine submission and does not have an abstract. As such the Introduction section has been pasted here as an "abstract".

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a condition characterized by repeated occlusion of the upper airway (UA) during sleep. From OSA’s initial clinical description less than 50 years ago to present day, progression in respiratory sleep medicine has vastly expanded the scope of our knowledge of OSA. What was once regarded as a rare affliction that simply led to daytime hypersomnelence1 is now recognized as a common and serious condition capable wreaking havoc in the cardiovascular system, independently promoting heart failure, stroke, hypertension and likely atherosclerosis.At the beginning of a new decade, the field of OSA research finds itself at yet another frontier as a radically new etiological perspective emerges. This new paradigm of the cause of OSA promises the possibility of novel OSA treatments and prophylaxes. This article will follow the progression of OSA research, from the condition's initial discovery, on to the current widely-accepted view of OSA and finally to the future of respiratory sleep medicine.