Stroke, Cancer And Death More Likely In Those With Severe Sleep Apnea
April Flowers for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine has released a 20 year follow-up study of sleep apnea which reveals that moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is independently associated with an increased risk of stroke, cancer and death. The results of this study were published in a recent issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.
The findings showed that individuals with moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea were four times more likely to die (hazard ratio = 4.2), nearly four times more likely to have a stroke (HR = 3.7), three times more likely to die from cancer (HR = 3.4), and 2.5 times more likely to develop cancer. The research team adjusted their results for potential confounding factors, including body mass index, smoking status, total cholesterol and blood pressure.
“Sleep apnea is a common disease that has a powerful impact on public health because it greatly increases the risk of strokes, cancers and mortality from any cause,” said Nathaniel S. Marshall, PhD, senior lecturer in clinical trials at the University of Sydney in Australia.
The researchers focused on 397 adults who are participating in the ongoing Busselton Health Study, one of the longest running epidemiological research programs in the world. Using a portable home sleep testing device, the researchers gathered objective sleep data from the participants in 1990.
Moderate to severe OSA affected 4.6 percent of the participants, while 20.6 percent had mild OSA. During the 20 years between the original study and the follow up, there were 77 deaths and 31 strokes, as well as 125 cancer events that included 39 fatalities. The researchers found no association between increased health risks and mild sleep apnea.
“Obstructive sleep apnea is a chronic disease that can be destructive to your health,” said American Academy of Sleep Medicine President Dr. Safwan Badr. “People with symptoms of sleep apnea, such as loud and frequent snoring or silent pauses in breathing during sleep, should see a board certified sleep medicine physician for a comprehensive sleep evaluation.”
The findings of this study, supported by grants from the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia, are consistent with the results of previous studies conducted in the US and Spain.