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Sleep Disorders

17 August 2012

Sleep apnoea affects women too

Although sleep apnoea is a condition often associated with men, new research reveals that many women also have the disorder, especially those who are obese or have high blood pressure.

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Although sleep apnoea is a condition often associated with men, new research reveals that many women also have the disorder, especially those who are obese or have high blood pressure.

Sleep apnoea causes frequent pauses in breathing during sleep, and rates of the condition increase as people age.

For the study, researchers from Uppsala University and Umea University in Sweden surveyed 400 women, aged 20 and older. The women also underwent a sleep study.

How the study was done

Half of the women showed signs of obstructive sleep apnoea, the investigators found. Of the women with high blood pressure (also called hypertension), 80% suffered from sleep apnoea. Meanwhile, 84% of the obese women examined had the disorder.

Among obese women 55 to 70 years old, 31% experienced severe sleep apnoea.

"We were very surprised to find such a high occurrence of sleep apnea in women, as it is traditionally thought of as a male disorder," study lead author Karl Franklin said in a news release from the European Lung Foundation. "These findings suggest that clinicians should be particularly aware of the association between sleep apnoea and obesity and hypertension, in order to identify patients who could also be suffering from the sleeping disorder."

The study was published online ahead of print in the European Respiratory Journal.

Read more:
Sleeplessness affects millions

More information

The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute provides more information on sleep apnea.


(Copyright © 2012 HealthDay. All rights reserved.)

 

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Dr Alison Bentley is a general practitioner who has consulted in sleep medicine and sleep disorders, in both adults and children of all ages, for almost 30 years. She also researches and publishes on a number of sleep-related topics both in formal research journals and lay publications including as editor of Sleep Matters, an educational newsletter on sleep disorders for doctors.

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