The risk for women who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea of dying from heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems may be reduced by treatment with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is more prevalent in men, and is less often recognized in women, affecting only up to 3 percent of middle-aged women.
Studies have shown an association between OSA and risk for cardiovascular death, but studies have focused mostly or exclusively on men.
A new study looks at 1,116 women who were referred for evaluation of OSA to two sleep medicine clinics between 1998 and 2007.
All of the women had a sleep test to determine the level of their sleep apnea. Women with an apnea-hyponea index, or AHI (measurement of cessation of breathing for more than 10 seconds), of less than 10 were the control group.
Women with an AHI of 30 or greater (severe OSA) were offered treatment with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device.
Women with untreated, severe OSA had increased cardiovascular death, but CPAP treatment decreased mortality to a rate that was similar to that among women without OSA.