King's College London

Research portal

Sleep disordered breathing and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a narrative review on classification, pathophysiology and clinical outcomes

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Thoracic Disease
Accepted/In press25 Sep 2020

King's Authors


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) causes load-capacity-drive imbalance in both wakefulness and sleep, principally driven by expiratory flow limitation and hyperinflation. Sleep imposes additional burdens to the respiratory muscle pump, driven by changes in respiratory muscle tone, neural respiratory drive and consequences of the supine position. COPD patients are therefore at higher risk of decompensation during sleep, which may manifest as altered sleep architecture, isolated nocturnal desaturation, sleep hypoventilation and restless legs. Each form of sleep disordered breathing in COPD is associated with adverse clinical and patient-reported outcomes, including increased risk of exacerbations, hospitalisation, cardiovascular events, reduced survival and poorer quality of life. COPD-obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) overlap syndrome represents a distinct clinical diagnosis, in which clinical outcomes are significantly worse than in either disease alone, including increased mortality, risk of cardiovascular events, hospitalisation and exacerbation frequency. Sleep disordered breathing is under-recognised by COPD patients and their clinicians, however early diagnosis and management is crucial to reduce the risk of adverse clinical outcomes. In this narrative review, we describe the pathophysiology of COPD and physiological changes that occur during sleep, manifestations and diagnosis of sleep disordered breathing in COPD and associated clinical outcomes.

View graph of relations

© 2020 King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS | England | United Kingdom | Tel +44 (0)20 7836 5454