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Women Suffer From Sleep Apnea, Raised Heart Risks, Too
Date:1/16/2012

By Kathleen Doheny
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Jan. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Just as it does in men, obstructive sleep apnea can raise the risk for women of dying from heart attacks and having other cardiovascular problems, a new Spanish study indicates.

However, treating severe apnea at night with a system called CPAP -- continuous positive airway pressure -- can also help reduce the risk of heart attack deaths in women with apnea, just it can in men, the researchers report.

Sleep apnea -- characterized by repeated interruptions of breathing during sleep -- affects many more men than women, but up to 3 percent of middle-aged women have the disorder. One common symptom is snoring. Most patients have daytime sleepiness because of the sleep disorder. However, little research has focused on women until now.

"Women with untreated severe obstructive sleep apnea have a three-and-a-half-fold increase in the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease compared to women without [it]," said researcher Dr. Francisco Campos-Rodriguez, director of the sleep-disordered breathing unit at Valme University Hospital in Seville.

However, he found that treatment with CPAP in the women with severe apnea reduced that risk. The study is observational, so the researchers cannot say whether the apnea caused the increased rates of death or whether it was the CPAP that reduced that risk.

The study is published in the Jan. 17 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The researchers followed 1,116 middle-aged women, all sent to sleep medicine clinics in Spain for suspected apnea. The researchers determined whether they had the condition, measured the severity of the apnea, and divided them into mild-to-moderate or severe groups. Some in each group received CPAP treatment and some did not.

Those found not to have sleep apnea served as the comparison or control group.

They followed the women for up to 88 mont
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