Staggering Statistics Re Sleep Apnoea In Women

Mon, Sep 10, 2012

Contrary to common belief, a massive 50% of women may be suffering from sleep apnoea according to a recent study.

The study by scientists in Sweden involved overnight sleep tests which monitored the sleep patterns of 400 adult women.  Unexpectedly, around half the subjects experienced at least five apnoea events per hour (i.e., they stopped breathing for longer than 10 seconds).  This would be classified as ‘mild’ sleep apnoea.

But among women with hypertension or who were obese the numbers skyrocketed to much higher levels of prevalence and severity.  Approximately 80 per cent of women with these risk indicators were found to have mild-to-severe sleep apnoea.

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

Sleep apnoea is clearly linked to a higher risk of stroke, heart attack and early death and one recent study also found that women who have sleep apnoea are more likely to develop memory problems and dementia.

Among women aged 20-44, one quarter had sleep apnoea, compared to 56 percent of women aged 45-54 and 75 per cent of women aged 55-70.

Professor Young said these numbers are higher than her own estimate, and they are certainly much higher than the statistics usually mentioned.   Young said sleep apnoea is often thought of as a predominantly male condition, but identifying women with sleep apnoea is good medicine because her research has shown that women are good at sticking with treatment.

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

The one slightly positive note was that severe sleep apnoea, which involves more than 30 breathing stoppages per hour, was far less common.  Just 4.6 per cent of women 45-54 and 14 per cent of women 55-70 had severe cases.

However, among women of all ages with hypertension, 14 per cent had severe sleep apnoea, and among women who were obese, 19 per cent had severe apnoea.

You can see the full article here:

The simple fact is:  sleep apnoea affects both genders, at all ages, regardless of body shape (although obesity, hypertension and snoring are major indicators for underlying sleep apnoea.)

If you think you or a loved one may be suffering from sleep apnoea, call 1300 246 637 for a free, no obligation chat with a friendly treatment coordinator.  We’re here to help.

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