Objectives: Besides hypoxaemia severity, heart rate variability has been linked to cognitive decline in obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) patients. Thus, our aim was to examine whether the frequency domain features of a nocturnal photoplethysmogram (PPG) can be linked to poor performance in the psychomotor vigilance task (PVT).
Methods: PPG signals from 567 suspected OSA patients, extracted from Type 1 diagnostic polysomnography, and corresponding results of PVT were retrospectively examined. The frequency content of complete PPGs was determined, and analyses were conducted separately for men (n=327) and women (n=240). Patients were grouped into PVT performance quartiles based on the number of lapses (reaction times ≥500 ms) and within-test variation in reaction times. The best-performing (Q1) and worst-performing (Q4) quartiles were compared due the lack of clinical thresholds in PVT.
Results: We found that the increase in arterial pulsation frequency (APF) in both men and women was associated with a higher number of lapses. Higher APF was also associated with higher within-test variation in men, but not in women. Median APF (β=0.27, p=0.01), time spent under 90% saturation (β=0.05, p<0.01), female sex (β=1.29, p<0.01), older age (β=0.03, p<0.01) and subjective sleepiness (β=0.07, p<0.01) were significant predictors of belonging to Q4 based on lapses. Only female sex (β=0.75, p<0.01) and depression (β=0.91, p<0.02) were significant predictors of belonging to Q4 based on the within-test variation.
Conclusions: In conclusion, increased APF in PPG provides a possible polysomnography indicator for deteriorated vigilance especially in male OSA patients. This finding highlights the connection between cardiorespiratory regulation, vigilance and OSA. However, our results indicate substantial sex-dependent differences that warrant further prospective studies.
- Heart Rate
- Sleep Apnea, Obstructive
- Psychomotor Disorders