According to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, sleep apnea is every bit as serious a health problem for women as for men. This had not previously been studied because men are more likely to be apnea sufferers and so most studies had focused on that gender.
This study involved 1,116 middle-aged women over several years. The researchers determined whether the women had sleep apnea or not, measured the severity of the apnea, and divided the women into groups. Some of the women with sleep apnea were then treated with continuous positive airway pressurisation (CPAP).
Women without sleep apnea were used as a "control group" to compare results against.
All women were monitored for more than seven years. During that time, 41 women (4%) died due to a cardiovascular problem.
These deaths related to cardiovascular problems occurred significantly more often in women with sleep apnea not treated with CPAP. According to researcher Dr. Francisco Campos-Rodriguez, the women with untreated severe obstructive sleep apnea had 3 ½ times the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease compared to the women without sleep apnea.
Once again, this highlights the importance of getting treatment for sleep disordered breathing conditions. If you suspect you, or someone you know, may have a sleep disorder (ranging from simple snoring through to severe obstructive sleep apnoea) arrange a diagnostic sleep study as soon as possible to determine the severity of any condition and an appropriate form of treatment.