Adults with obesity and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) are at risk for cardiometabolic disease and this risk likely extends to children with both conditions. Non-invasive ventilation (NIV; including continuous and bilevel positive airway pressure) is often used to treat OSA in children with obesity. The aim of this study was to examine the impact of NIV treatment on heart rate variability, as a marker of cardiovascular risk, in children with obesity and newly diagnosed OSA.
A prospective multi-center cohort study was conducted in children with obesity prescribed NIV therapy for newly diagnosed moderate-severe OSA. Measurements of HRV were derived from polysomnography recordings at baseline and after 12 months of treatment. HRV parameters were examined by sleep stage, before and after arousal and oxygen desaturation events. HRV parameters were compared between time points using pair t-tests as well as mixed model analysis.
Twelve subjects had appropriate data for analysis at baseline and 12 months. Heart rate decreased by 4.5 beats/min after NIV treatment with no change in HRV parameters. HRV parameters differed by sleep stage and showed an increase in arousal related sympathetic-parasympathetic balance after 12 months of NIV treatment. HRV parameters did not differ before and after oxygen desaturation events.
NIV for the treatment in children with obesity and OSA resulted in a small decrease in heart rate and an increase in arousal related sympathetic-parasympathetic balance. These findings suggest small potentially positive impacts of NIV on cardiovascular risk in children with concurrent obesity and OSA.

© 2020 American Academy of Sleep Medicine.