Mild-to-severe sleep apnea , i.e., breathing interruptions during sleep, was identified in half of the women in overnight sleep tests conducted by Swedish researchers, and the condition worsens with age.
Test subjects were 400 women ranging in age from 20 to 70 taken from a larger population sample of 10,000.
Reuters summarizes the findings:
“In the random population sample of adult women who answered a questionnaire and were monitored while sleeping, half experienced at least five episodes an hour when they stopped breathing for longer than 10 seconds, the minimum definition of sleep apnea.”
Of the women in the study who had high blood pressure or were obese, up to 84 percent were diagnosed with sleep apnea. About 56 percent of those tested in the age 45-54 cohort had sleep apnea, while the percentage among the 55-and-above group rose to 75 percent.
Sleep apnea has also been linked to prediabetes and other conditions.
Dr. Karl Franklin, the lead author of the study, commented that “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.”
The “Sleep Apnea is a Common Occurrence in Females” report, which was published in the European Respiratory Journal, noted that sleep apnea is primarily considered a male disorder so the research aimed to determine how prevalent it is among females. Unlike men, sleep apnea among women is apparently unrelated to feeling drowsy during the day.
The study concludes that “obstructive sleep apnea occurs in 50% of females aged 20–70 years. 20% of females have moderate, and 6% severe sleep apnea.”