Sleep apnea may be even more dangerous for women’s hearts than for men’s, concluded a study in the journal Circulation.
Characterized by frequent stopping of breathing during sleep—often followed by choking and gasping to recover—apnea is linked to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, osteoporosis, increased mortality, and possibly earlier onset of cognitive decline and dementia. The study followed more than 1,500 initially healthy people (average age 63) for 14 years and found that in women, but not in men, the condition was independently associated with a marker for heart damage in the blood called troponin T, as well as with heart failure, heart enlargement (ventricular hypertrophy), and premature death.
Sleep apnea is often regarded as a man’s problem, but women also have high rates, especially those who are obese. The new findings highlight the importance of screening women as well as men for sleep apnea, the researchers concluded.
Also see Snoring and Sleep Apnea.