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Study links asthma to increased risk for sleep apnea in young women

Cincinnati -- Researchers from the University of Cincinnati (UC) and Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC) have found that young women with asthma are twice as likely to have symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea--a condition that often goes undetected in women--compared with those who do not have asthma.

The Cincinnati team found that about 21 percent of young adult women with asthma experienced habitual snoring, the primary symptom of obstructive sleep apnea.

These findings, the researchers say, disprove a long-held notion that obstructive sleep apnea predominantly affects males, and highlights the importance of identifying specific groups of women who are at high risk for the condition.

This study is reported in the August edition of the journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

"For a long time physicians believed that men were more likely than women to get obstructive sleep apnea, but we've shown that's not necessarily true," says Maninder Kalra, MD, lead author of the study and assistant professor of pediatrics at the UC College of Medicine. "Our study reinforces the need for awareness and early detection of the disease in women who are at increased risk for breathing disorders related to sleep."

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when airways in the nose, mouth and throat narrow and disrupt a person's ability to breathe properly--primarily during sleep. When this happens, breathing can stop for short periods and cause blood-oxygen levels to become low.

Left untreated, obstructive sleep apnea can lead to impaired memory, mood swings, restless sleep, and extreme day-time fatigue. Long term effects can include higher blood pressure and decreased heart function.

"Physicians need to know the risk factors that predispose a patient to obstructive sleep apnea," Kalra adds, "so we can get those patients in for a conclusive test--such as a sleep study--and start treatment
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Contact: Amanda Harper
amanda.harper@uc.edu
513-558-4657
University of Cincinnati
15-Aug-2006


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