Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Mars and Venus: Variations in Men and Women with Sleep Apnea

All is not equal in gender and sleep: A 2005 study published in SLEEP shows that men present differently than women when diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

The study included 130 men and 130 women. They were matched for age and body mass index. They were also matched for Epworth Sleepiness Scale score and apnea-hypopnea index (AHI). An AHI is the average number of breaks in breathing that occur per hour of sleep.

The researchers compared the complaints and medical history of the two groups.

The results show that when diagnosed with sleep apnea, women and men have different medical problems.

Women were more likely than men to have a history of depression or hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism happens when the thyroid gland under-produces certain hormones.

Four percent of men had a past diagnosis of hypothyroidism in contrast to 22 percent of women. Seven percent of men had a past diagnosis of depression in contrast to 21 percent of women.

Men were also less likely than women to complain of insomnia.

Five percent of men complained of insomnia in contrast to 17 percent of women.

The study notes that while people consider OSA a disease of “obese, middle-aged men,” it can affect anyone. In the U.S., four percent of men and two percent of women have OSA.

The researchers suggest testing for OSA in women who have depression, hypothyroidism, and/or insomnia.

Learn the risk factors of OSA here. Take the STOP questionnaire to gauge your risk.

Image by Bluedharma

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The Official Blog of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM) is intended as an information source only. Content of this blog should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment, and it is not a substitute for medical care, which should be provided by the appropriate health care professional. If you suspect you have a sleep-related breathing disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), you should consult your personal physician or visit an AASM-accredited sleep disorders center. The AADSM, and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, as the managing agent of the AADSM, assume no liability for the information contained on the Official Blog of the AADSM or for its use.