Women with untreated, severe OSA had increased cardiovascular death, according to research published in the January 17 edition of Annals of Internal Medicine. However, CPAP treatment decreased mortality to a rate that was similar to that among women without OSA.

Researchers studied 1,116 women who were referred for evaluation of OSA to two sleep medicine clinics between 1998 and 2007. All of the women had a sleep test to determine the level of their sleep apnea. Women with an apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) of less than 10 were the control group. Women with an AHI of 30 or greater (severe OSA) were offered CPAP treatment.

OSA affects up to 3% of middle-aged women. The condition is more prevalent in men, and is less often recognized in women. Studies have shown an association between OSA and risk for cardiovascular death, but studies have focused mostly on men.