© Brian Chase / Shutterstock
As many as half of all women could be suffering from sleep apnea
, if a study published in an August edition of the European Respiratory Journal
is any indication.
As part of the research, experts from Umeå University
and Uppsala University
, both in Sweden, recruited a random population sample of 400 women, had them complete a questionnaire and monitored them while they were sleeping, Reuters reporter Kerry Grens said on Friday
Of those women, "half experienced at least five episodes an hour when they stopped breathing for longer than 10 seconds, the minimum definition of sleep apnea," Grens noted.
"Among women with hypertension or who were obese - two risk factors for sleep apnea - the numbers were even higher, reaching 80 to 84%of women."
According to Anthony Bond of the Daily Mail,
lead author Dr. Karl Franklin, a professor at Umea University, and colleagues selected 400 female subjects
, ages 20 to 70, from a population sample of 10,000 people. Each of them were fitted with sensors that measured their heart rate, eye movement, leg movement, blood oxygen levels, brain waves, and air flow.
"The study, which was funded by the Swedish Heart-Lung Foundation, found that apnea became more common in the older age groups," Bond added. "Among women aged 20-44, one quarter had sleep apnea, compared to 56 percent of women aged 45-54 and 75% of women aged 55-70...
Severe sleep apnea, which involves more than 30 breathing disruptions per hour, was far less common...Just 4.6% of women 45-54 and 14% of women 55-70 had severe cases."
Their work, which was supported by the Swedish Heart-Lung Foundation
, suggests that doctors should regularly check obese women, as well as those who have hypertension, for sleep apnea, which Grens says has been linked to increased risk of stroke and heart attack.