Obesity hypoventilation syndrome overview

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]


The obesity hypoventilation syndrome consists of the combination of obesity (body mass index above 30 kg/m2), falling oxygen levels in blood (hypoxia) during sleep and increasing carbon dioxide levels (hypercapnia); this is the result of hypoventilation (excessively slow or shallow breathing) during sleep.[1] Obstructive sleep apnea is often but not necessarily present.[2]

It may cause dyspnea (difficulty breathing), poor sleep with daytime tiredness, leg swelling and various other symptoms. The main treatments are weight loss and nocturnal ventilation (with CPAP or related methods). The exact pathophysiologic mechanism remains unknown.[2]


  1. Anonymous (1999). "Sleep-related breathing disorders in adults: recommendations for syndrome definition and measurement techniques in clinical research. The Report of an American Academy of Sleep Medicine Task Force". Sleep. 22 (5): 667–89. PMID 10450601.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Olson AL, Zwillich C (2005). "The obesity hypoventilation syndrome". Am. J. Med. 118 (9): 948–56. doi:10.1016/j.amjmed.2005.03.042. PMID 16164877.

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