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Sleep Apnea Raises Risk of Death, Especially for Men: Report
Date:8/18/2009

Major study links disordered breathing to deadly cardiovascular complications

TUESDAY, Aug. 18 (HealthDay News) -- The classic manifestations of sleep apnea -- loud snoring, interrupted breathing and sleep disruption -- nearly double the risk for chronic disease and premature death among middle-aged and elderly men, according to major new research.

Even patients with moderate sleep apnea face an increased death risk, as much as 17 percent, compared with those who do not have sleep-disordered breathing problems, the decade-long U.S. study finds.

"The primary finding of our study is that sleep apnea can increase the risk of death by about 40 percent, even after other factors have been accounted for," said study lead author Dr. Naresh Punjabi, an associate professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.

"Our study also shows that it is the decrease in oxygen levels during sleep from sleep apnea that explains the increased risk of death," added Punjabi. Men with sleep apnea between the ages of 40 and 70 are particularly at risk of death from any source, but especially from cardiovascular disease, the researchers found.

Punjabi and his colleagues published their findings in the online Aug. 18 issue of the journal PLoS Medicine. The research effort is the largest ever to explore associations between sleep disturbances and illness, they said.

Sleep apnea is a common, chronic condition that affects about one in four men and about one in 10 women, the authors note. Left untreated, it can lead to excessive sleepiness, difficulties with daytime alertness and an increased risk for driving accidents.

For their study, the research team at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center focused on more than 6,400 men and women between 40 and 70 years old who had mild to severe sleep apnea or had no such sleeping difficulties. Many participants described themselv
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