Obstructive sleep apnea, which often comes with severe snoring, is a common yet dangerous sleep disorder. According to one recent study, this condition may be especially dangerous for women’s heart health.
The study looked at data on 4,877 people available through UK Biobank. Results showed that for men and women who reported obstructive sleep apnea or snoring, heart imaging revealed an increased thickness in the left ventricular wall, which is the heart’s main pumping chamber.
However, the difference in thickness was greater for women.
Reena Mehra, M.D., M.S., Director of Sleep Disorders Research at Cleveland Clinic, did not take part in the research, but said sleep apnea risks do vary between men and women. “There are known sex-specific differences in obstructive sleep apnea, in terms of risk across the lifespan and symptoms,” she said. “We know that obstructive sleep apnea is 2-5 times more common in men than it is in women; but when women become post-menopausal, their risk for obstructive sleep apnea actually increases.”
Dr. Mehra said the study results suggest the changes in the hearts of the snoring group could be an indication of undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea in these women.