A recently concluded Swedish research study established that 50 % of the women who underwent the overnight sleep study turned out to have mild-to-severe sleep apnea.

The random population sample constituting 400 women were monitored while sleeping. Almost 50% of these women experienced at least five episodes an hour when they stopped breathing for longer than 10 seconds, the minimum definition of sleep apnea.

Among the obese and women with hypertension the risk factors for sleep apnea was recorded as high as 80 to 84 percent of occurrence.

Dr. Karl Franklin, the lead author of the study and a professor at Umea University in Sweden says,’ How important the mild sleep apnea is, we don’t know”. The study also recorded high occurrence of mild sleep apnea among the women

According to Terry Young, a professor in the School of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Wisconsin the mild sleep apnea is important to pay attention to. “We see that it doesn’t go away and it gets worse,” she said.

Sleep apnea is closely associated with high risks for stroke, heart attack and early death. 

Revelations of another recently concluded research study also indicate that women who have sleep apnea are more likely to develop memory problems and dementia.

The researchers selected 400 women between the ages of 20 and 70 from a larger population sample of 10,000, and asked them to sleep overnight at home with sensors attached to their bodies. The sensors measured heart rate, eye and leg movements, blood oxygen levels, air flow and brain waves.

Each apnea event was defined by at a least a 10-second pause in breathing accompanied by a drop in blood oxygen levels. Women who had an average of five or more of these events during each hour of sleep were considered to have sleep apnea.

The study, which was funded by the Swedish Heart Lung Foundation, found that apnea became more common in the older age groups.

Almost 25 5 women in the age group of 20-44 were having sleep apnea, compared to 56 % of women aged 45-54 and 75 %of women aged 55-70.

Among women of all ages 14% Women with hypertension were found having severe sleep apnea, and 19%  obese women suffered with severe apnea.

According to Franklin, “if physicians are looking for sleep apnea among women, examining those who are obese, over 55 or have hypertension is a good place to start”.

Young said sleep apnea is often thought of as a condition of men, but identifying women with it is especially beneficial, because her research has shown that women are good at sticking with treatment.

“The prejudice of excluding women (as potentially having sleep apnea) has been rampant for a long time. It’s gotten better, however, and the (public health) gain in identifying women with sleep apnea is great,” she said.

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Filed under: Heart AttackHypertensionObesitySleepSleep ApneaSleep Apnea EffectsSleep Apnea ResearchSleep Apnea StudySleep Disordered BreathingStressStroke

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