WESTCHESTER, Ill. In a study that examined the relationship between race, menopausal status and symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), middle-aged African-American women were found to be more likely to experience OSA symptoms than their Caucasian counterparts, according to a research abstract that will be presented Monday at SLEEP 2007, the 21st Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies (APSS).
Elizabeth Beothy, of the University of Pennsylvania, who authored the study, administered a questionnaire to 269 subjects, with an average age of 48, and 49.4 percent of which were African-American. Further, 37.5 percent of women were pre-menopausal, 43 percent in the menopausal transition and 19.5 percent post-menopausal.
The mean apnea score among African-American women was nearly double that of Caucasian women. Menopausal status was not a significant predictor of OSA symptoms. Race remained a significant predictor of OSA symptoms after adjustment for current body mass index (BMI), BMI change over time and menopausal status.
"Although menopausal status did not predict OSA symptoms, OSA symptoms on our cohort of menopausal women increased with higher BMI and larger BMI increases over time," said Beothy, who added that studies to document whether OSA is more common among African-American women than Caucasian women should be performed to further investigate these findings.
OSA affects an estimated 15 million to 20 million Americans, as well as millions more who remain undiagnosed and untreated.
Scientific evidence shows that CPAP is the best treatment for sleep apnea. CPAP provides a steady stream of pressurized air to patients through a mask that they wear during sleep. This airflow keeps the airway open, preventing the pauses in breathing that characterize OSA and restoring normal oxygen levels.