Obstructive Sleep Apnoea Can Cause Fatty Liver and Elevated Liver Enzymes

Sleep apnoea can have a lot of serious consequences which are related to our health. This type of disordered breathing which happens during sleep is manifested by breathing pauses lasting for 10 seconds or more. In this medical condition, ventilation is reduced and hypoxemia may occur (low oxygen levels in the blood). This further gives rise to excessive daytime sleepiness and other bothersome signs and symptoms.

What happens during sleep apnoea is that the upper-airway dilating respiratory muscles which normally relax during sleep act as if they cannot longer successfully oppose negative pressure within the airway during breathing. Patients with sleep apnoea have narrow upper airways which can further narrow when muscle tone falls during sleep. Frequent arousals during sleep caused by sleep apnoea can accelerate the heartbeat, elevate the blood pressure and increase the sympathetic tone. This leads to increased risk for comorbid illnesses.

However, in a recent study published in the June issue of Obes Surg. 2013, obstructive sleep apnoea was seen to give rise to increase in liver enzymes and fibrosis of the liver due to fat. In this study, the researchers identified 11 studies, from which they extracted information about numbers of control subjects and OSA patients, and ALT, AST, and NAFLD. Their found out that from a total of 668 OSA patients and 404 controls, the standardized difference in mean values of ALT and AST levels in patients with OSA was significantly different from that in the controls. Fatty liver was associated with OSA in five studies with 400 subjects. OSA was significantly associated with liver fibrosis in 208 subjects, but not with lobular inflammation. Thus the researchers recommended that routine assessment of liver enzymes and liver damage should be done in patients with obstructive sleep apnoea.


Sookoian S, Pirola CJ. Obstructive Sleep Apnoea Is Associated with Fatty Liver and Abnormal Liver Enzymes: a Meta-analysis. Obes Surg. 2013 Jun 7.

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Somnowell Inventor - Visiting Professor Simon Ash FDS MSc MOrth BDS

Prof. Ash is the inventor of the highly successful SOMNOWELL Chrome device for snoring and sleep apnoea.

The Somnowell Chrome is made to exacting standards in the Somnowell laboratory under the supervision of Visiting Professor Simon Ash. Prof. Ash and his master technicians create each Somnowell Chrome device using their wealth of experience and expertise.

Prof. Ash works at the forefront of his profession. He is a Consultant and Specialist Orthodontist with over 30 years clinical experience, with a special interest in sleep related breathing disorders, TMJD, and bruxism. He currently works in Harley Street London and two private hospitals in London as part of a multi-disciplinary team managing snoring and sleep apnoea, and is Visiting Professor of Orthodontics at the BPP University.