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Daytime Sleepiness Linked to Risk of Death in Elderly

Older individuals reporting excessive daytime sleepiness had 33 percent higher mortality risk

FRIDAY, Feb. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Older individuals who are excessively sleepy during the day may face a higher risk of mortality, according to research published online Feb. 26 in the journal Stroke.

Jean-Philippe Empana, M.D., Ph.D., of INSERM in Villejuif, France, and colleagues analyzed data from 8,269 subjects, mean age 74, who reported their frequency of excessive daytime sleepiness and overnight sleep complaints. At baseline, 18.7 percent had regular daytime sleepiness, and after six years of follow-up, 762 participants had died.

After adjustment for age, body mass index, gender, previous cardiovascular disease and other factors, excessive daytime sleepiness was associated with a significantly higher risk of mortality (hazard ratio, 1.33), the researchers report. It was also associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular mortality, but not cancer mortality, they found.

"Subjects with excessive daytime sleepiness may be sleep deprived, and experimental studies conducted with volunteers indicate that sleep deprivation is associated with sympathetic tone activation and elevated levels of circulating catecholamines, which may affect survival," the authors write. "These data may have clinical implications adding to the body [of] evidence that excessive daytime sleepiness is not a benign but rather an important risk marker for mid-term mortality in community-dwelling elderly. Thus its assessment using a simple questionnaire should be part of routine examinations in the elderly."

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