Any surgery comes with a risk of complications afterward. However, certain conditions can raise those risks. A new study shows that undiagnosed sleep apnea may increase the risk of heart complications after major noncardiac surgery. These complications range from myocardial injury, to atrial fibrillation, to congestive heart failure.

The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). Researchers studied 1,218 patients who had not previously been diagnosed with sleep apnea and who underwent major noncardiac surgery between 2012 and 2017. More than two-thirds of this group had undiagnosed sleep apnea at the beginning of the study. Researchers divided the participants into those who had severe, moderate, mild or no sleep apnea.

They were monitored afterward to see how their recovery went. It was found that those who had severe sleep apnea had a 30.1% risk of having an adverse cardiac complication following surgery. This is compared to 14.2% for those who did not have sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is a serious issue that should not be ignored. If one feels he or she has sleep apnea, please seek out a doctor to discuss the issue.


Chan, Matthew T. V. “Association Between Unrecognized OSA and Cardiovascular Events After Major Noncardiac Surgery.” JAMA, American Medical Association, 14 May 2019,

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