Obesity hypoventilation syndrome research

Obesity Hypoventilation Syndrome


Obesity hypoventilation syndrome (OHS) is a condition where people with morbid obesity develop under-breathing (or hypoventilation) during wakefulness. As a consequence, blood oxygen levels fall and carbon dioxide rises resulting in ‘respiratory failure’. Not only is respiratory failure a serious complication, increasing the likelihood of being hospitalised, the low oxygen levels are also associated with other significant medical problems including high blood pressure, diabetes and heart failure. If left untreated, survival in OHS is significantly reduced compared to people with equally severe obesity who do not under-breathe when awake.


The presence of OHS has a significant health and social impact for the individual. Unfortunately, the presence of under-breathing in people with morbid obesity is often overlooked or the disorder is inadequately treated. The problem of how to best treat the different types of sleep breathing problems seen in this disorder is something many centres around the world are currently facing. In conjunction with colleagues from the Institute of Breathing and Sleep in Melbourne and Alfred Health also in Melbourne, we are currently conducting a randomised trial to determine the optimal type of positive airway pressure (PAP) to manage sleep disordered breathing in patients with OHS. We want to investigate how to maximize health gains achieved with therapy in the most cost effective way. In addition, we will be looking at the effects of different types of PAP therapy on quality of life, health care utilization and physical activity. Our goal is not only to provide better information to clinicians on how they should be managing the problem, but also to ensure more people in the medical community recognise this serious condition early.


Get your obesity hypoventilation syndrome treated by the best at the Woolcock Clinic, a world-leading medical centre specialising in the diagnosis and treatment of all sleep and breathing disorders. Our dedicated clinicians are at the forefront of international sleep and respiratory research, ensuring our patients get access to the very latest approaches in care.

Our inter-disciplinary approach allows patients to be treated under one roof at our state-of the art facility in Macquarie Park, Sydney.

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