Can 50% of All Women Have Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

The most commonly cited figure for obstructive sleep apnea in women is 9%, but a more recent study out of Sweden revealed that 50% of women had an AHI of 5 or more. Of note, sleep apnea in women was statistically related to age, obesity and hypertension, but not daytime sleepiness.

Rates of obstructive sleep apnea differ amongst different studies and different countries, but I’m willing that this is an accurate figure, especially with the obesity epidemic. The real question is, now that we know that this condition is epidemic, is the field of medicine going to do anything to tackle this condition head on, or just continue doing things the same way?

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7 thoughts on “Can 50% of All Women Have Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

  1. I don’t think this will change anytime soon with most doctors. I record Dr. Oz daily and he rarely, rarely mentions anything about sleep apnea and never anything about UARS. He never brings it up with heart issues or hight blood pressure. Is that because as a heart surgeon he doesn’t want to lose business?

    I have numerous stories of people with sleep apnea/UARS asking their doctors if they need to be diagnosed/treated and the answer is “no.” Rather they are given prescriptions to deal with their symptoms. I have not heard of any chiropractors or alternative doctors advocate on behalf of a person’s sleep breathing But, again, I think it’s all due to economics; no one wants to lose patients.

    Even within the sleep medicine field, information needs to be disseminated with more continuity and accuracy. I find so many errant opinions among tthose in sleep medicine and their staff. The person administering my sleep study had never heard of UARS. More education is needed all around.

  2. I seriously doubt it’s a matter or docs ” knowing” but not acting. I think it’s simply a matter of emphasis at the education level. They don’t stress this stuff in med school (or at least they didn’t). If you don’t look like a retired football coach, no doc is going to even think about it. I think that’s what Dr. Park’s work is going to change.

  3. of course they do. and the number is probably even higher.

    I agree that education needs to change. I remembered everything I was taught in my training and they didn’t teach me anything about OSA other than that you have to be fat or have big tonsils to have it.
    (of course my new memory is not as good since my OSA got worse…..)

    you’re elected Dr. Park. start touring medical schools!

  4. Number of deaths for leading causes of death:

    Heart disease: 599,413
    Cancer: 567,628
    Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 137,353
    Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 128,842
    Accidents (unintentional injuries): 118,021
    Alzheimer’s disease: 79,003
    Diabetes: 68,705
    Influenza and Pneumonia: 53,692
    Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 48,935
    Intentional self-harm (suicide): 36,909

    Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a known contributor to all of these with the possible exceptions of Chronic lower respiratory diseases and Influenza and Pneumonia wherein it’s presence would certainly be an added health detracting load.

    I hope we learn to find and cure this soon, otherwise we will be too sick and too few to matter any more.

  5. In a CME activity on UARS written by Dr. G, I found this bothersome fact in the paragraph on Treatment. After mention of CPAP’s decent efficacy it states…

    “In a follow-up study of more than 90 patients conducted 4 to 5 years after the initial diagnosis of UARS was made, none of the subjects were receiving CPAP treatment; the main rationale given was that their insurance provider declined to provide the necessary equipment.1 Formal follow-up clinical evaluations of these patients noted significant worsening in their sleep-related complaints, with increased reports of fatigue, insomnia, and depressive mood. More disturbingly, prescriptions for hypnotics, stimulants, and antidepressants increased more than fivefold.”


  6. In my reading I came across a couple of men who developed a computer algorithm which accurately measures nasal/oral air flow (10%) by sound (they use a simple microphone near the nose/mouth). I am suspicious that such a device used throughout the course of the day and night on those with UARS thru OSAS might well reveal breathing response patterns which could show how a hyper activated (intermittently high minute volumes) breathing response “train” the persons breathing reflexes to allow for more hypocapnic episodes. Perhaps the carotid bodies become intermittently hyper sensitive to de-oxygenated blood cells and produce an urge to breath which drives UARS and/or, through extended high minute volumes, irritate the airway passage causing OSAS? The simplicity of a microphone as a measurement tool may help make research into this possible.