Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that can cause a person to stop breathing during the night — as many as 60 times in just one hour. If left untreated, it can lead to high blood pressure, stroke, heart failure, irregular heart beats, heart attack, diabetes, depression, worsening of ADHD, and headaches.
Now, a new study has found that while apnea can increase a woman’s risk for heart problems and even death, there was no such effect for men.
The study, which was published in Circulation, involved over 1,600 people, who were an average age of 63 years old, and who did not have heart disease at the beginning of the study. Researchers tracked study participants for almost 14 years.
During that time, 46% of men and 32% of women either developed heart problems or passed away. Though the study wasn’t designed to prove cause and effect, it did find that women with moderate to severe sleep apnea had more than a 30% higher risk of heart problems than women without sleep apnea. What’s more, women with sleep apnea had higher blood levels of troponin, a chemical signal of early heart damage.
The study also found that there wasn’t any significant link between sleep apnea and heart problems in men.
Researchers concluded that the study’s findings suggest older women may be at a greater risk for sleep apnea-related heart disease than men.
According to the latest available data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 26.1% of adults in Arizona reported not getting enough sleep at least 14 days out of the past 30 between 2008 and 2009. Though the causes were unspecified, it would be wise to consider consulting your doctor if you’re one of the one in four adults not sleeping enough in Arizona, as it may be because of sleep apnea.