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Sleep Apnea Linked to Higher Death Risk

Higher risk of death also found in patients with sleep-disordered breathing

MONDAY, Aug. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with moderate-to-severe sleep apnea or severe sleep-disordered breathing have a higher risk of death than those without sleeping problems, according to two studies published in the Aug. 1 issue of Sleep.

Terry Young, Ph.D., and colleagues from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, examined all-cause mortality in 1,522 individuals, of whom 365 were determined to have mild, moderate or severe sleep-disordered breathing. After 18 years, they found that the 63 individuals with severe sleep-disordered breathing had a significantly higher risk of death compared with those with no disordered breathing (adjusted hazard ratio 3.0). Excluding the 126 individuals who had used continuous positive airway pressure treatment increased the hazard ratio of all-cause death to 3.8 and the hazard ratio for cardiovascular death to 5.2, the report indicates.

In another study, Nathaniel S. Marshall, Ph.D., from the University of Sydney in Australia, and colleagues examined all-cause mortality in 380 individuals in a western Australian town who were assessed with a home sleep apnea monitoring device. Of these, 77 were determined to have mild obstructive sleep apnea and 18 were determined to have moderate-to-severe obstructive sleep apnea. After a mean follow-up of 13.4 years, the researchers found a significantly higher risk of death in individuals with moderate-to-severe sleep apnea compared with those without sleep apnea (adjusted hazard ratio 6.24). There was no significant association between mild sleep apnea and risk of death.

"Moderate-to-severe sleep apnea is independently associated with a large increased risk of all-cause mortality in this community-based sample," Marshall and colleagues conclude.

Abstract - Young
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Abstract - Marshall
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