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Published Online: 11 August 2009

Sleep Breathing Disorders in the U.S. Female Population

Publication: Journal of Women's Health
Volume 18, Issue Number 8

Abstract

Background: Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) is a common disorder that remains underdiagnosed in adult females. The Berlin Questionnaire is a validated tool for identifying people at risk for OSAS. The aim of this report was to evaluate the prevalence of common symptoms of OSAS in women and to estimate the risk for OSAS among females in the United States.
Methods: This is an analysis of data from the 2007 Sleep in America Poll of the National Sleep Foundation. The NSF Poll is an annual telephone survey of a representative sample of U.S. adults. The 2007 NSF Poll included 1254 women in the United States, with an oversample of pregnant and postpartum women. We used the Berlin Questionnaire to estimate the risk for OSAS among the U.S. female population. This instrument includes questions about self-reported snoring, witnessed apneas, daytime sleepiness, hypertension, and obesity. Also included were questions about sleep habits, sleep problems, menstrual cycle status, and other medical disorders.
Results: Twenty-five percent of the female population was found to be at high risk for OSAS. Among women at high risk, such common symptoms of OSAS as habitual snoring (61%), observed apneas (7%), and daytime sleepiness (24%) were highly prevalent. Sleep onset insomnia (32%) or maintenance insomnia symptoms (19%) and restless legs syndrome (RLS) symptoms (33%) or body movements (60%) also were frequently reported. The risk increased with age (p < 0.05), obesity (p < 0.001), and menopause (p < 0.001). The presence of chronic medical disorders was more frequently reported among women at high risk.
Conclusions: One in four women in America is at high risk of having OSAS. Awareness by the primary care medical community of this disorder in females should thus be increased.

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Published In

cover image Journal of Women's Health
Journal of Women's Health
Volume 18Issue Number 8August 2009
Pages: 1211 - 1219
PubMed: 19627224

History

Published online: 11 August 2009
Published in print: August 2009
Published ahead of print: 23 July 2009

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Authors

Affiliations

Fotis Kapsimalis, M.D.
Department of Respiratory Medicine, Sleep Laboratory, Henry Dunant Hospital, Athens, Greece.
Meir Kryger, M.D.
Sleep Research and Education, Gaylord Hospital, Wallingford, Connecticut.

Notes

Address correspondence to:
Fotis Kapsimalis, M.D.
Department of Respiratory Medicine
Sleep Laboratory
Henry Dunant Hospital
107 Mesogeion Avenue
Athens
Greece
E-mail: [email protected]

Disclosure Statement

The authors have no conflicts of interest to report.

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