New research finds that testing for an inflammatory marker is a stronger predictor than apnea-hypopnea index alone.

New research from Penn State University suggests that a simple blood test can shed light on which patients may eventually experience these comorbidities. C-reactive protein (CRP), a general inflammatory marker easily obtained from a blood sample, could give clinicians a window into an OSA patient’s future metabolic health with more precision than current diagnostic tools, according to research published in the journal Physiological Reports.

The study compared the inflammatory biomarker CRP with the apnea hypopnea index (AHI) in identifying the presence and severity of hypertension and hyperglycemia in middle-aged adults with mild to moderate OSA. The study showed CRP to be a stronger predictor of elevated blood pressure and fasting glucose levels than AHI alone.

If sleep clinicians incorporate regular CRP testing into their clinical practice, they could offer more precision care to improve patient outcomes, explains coauthor Alexandros Vgontzas, MD, university chair in Sleep Disorders Medicine at Penn State.

“These preliminary findings suggest that including a measure of CRP improves the ability for clinicians to detect cases of mild-to-moderate OSA with true cardiometabolic risk, with implications in improving prognosis and treatment within this clinically gray area,” the authors wrote.

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