Snoring and Sleep Apnea Pose a Greater Risk for Women

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Women with obstructive sleep apnea are at higher risk for heart problems related to the sleep disorder than men with sleep apnea, according to research presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America in Chicago. Results of the study also suggest that obstructive sleep apnea, a condition in which the throat muscles relax during sleep and intermittently block the airway, is underdiagnosed in people who snore.

Signs and symptoms of sleep apnea include loud snoring, gasping during sleep, waking up with a dry mouth or headache, and irritability. Complications include daytime sleepiness, issues with certain medications and anesthesia, and cardiovascular problems — especially dysfunction of the heart’s left ventricle, which pumps blood through the circulatory system.

The researchers who presented the study were from Munich University Hospital in Germany, and they used information from the UK Biobank to analyze the connection between heart function and sleep apnea or self-reported snoring. Study participants were divided into three groups: 118 people with obstructive sleep apnea, 1,886 people with self-reported snoring, and 2,477 people who reported neither sleep apnea nor snoring. Participants had cardiac MRIs to assess their heart function.

According to the researchers, both men and women in the first two groups showed increased left ventricular mass — indicating that the heart is working harder to pump blood through the body. But compared with people in the third group (those without sleep apnea or snoring), women with self-reported snoring had more significant heart changes than men, possibly indicating undiagnosed sleep apnea.

Sourced from: Radiological Society of North American