Obesity hypoventilation syndrome, OHS, obesity, treatment, Pickwickian Syndrome


The effects of obesity are multifaceted and lead to poor quality of life, increased risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and death. Obesity hypoventilation syndrome (OHS) is a widely misunderstood and under diagnosed disease process, which carries specific diagnostic criteria. The purpose of this work is to: (1) provide practitioners with a better understanding of OHS and how it differs from other obesity related breathing disorders (such as Obstructive Sleep Apnea, OSA), (2) provide diagnostic criteria of OHS, (3) provide work up recommendations, and (4) provide current recommended treatment. Data Sources: An electronic search of the literature was conducted to identify studies from 2008 to 2014 in the following databases: CINAHL, National Library of Medicine PubMed®/MEDLINE®, EBSCO, SciVerse®, Springer Link®, and the Cochrane library. Conclusions: The effects of obesity are multifaceted and lead to poor quality of life, increased risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and death. Obese individuals are more prone to respiratory complications, such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and obesity hypoventilations syndrome (OHS). OHS is commonly diagnosed as OSA, as symptomology is similar. Widely misunderstood and undertreated, OHS is a distinct disease, with specific diagnostic criteria. The only proven method to reverse and cure OHS is bariatric surgery. These individuals require an interdisciplinary team approach to manage them. Results/Implications for Practice: Nurse practitioners often see obese and overweight, patients who may be at risk for OHS. While, OSA is commonly recognized in the medical community, many providers are unaware of OHS and its serious complications. OHS is often misdiagnosed, undertreated and thought of as severe OSA, as both carry a similar patient symptomology. It is important nurse practitioners recognize the difference between OSA and OHS. This includes understanding the diagnostic criteria; appropriate tests to order, and treatment plan options.


The College of Nursing showcases some of our best evidence based scholarly papers from graduate students in the Family Nurse Practitioner Program. The papers address relevant clinical problems for advance practice nurses and are based on the best evidence available. Using a systematic approach students critically analyze and synthesize the research studies to determine the strength of the evidence regarding the clinical problem. Based on the findings, recommendations are made for clinical practice. The papers are published in professional journals and presented at professional meetings.

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Master's Project

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Graduate Student

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Nursing Commons