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Women may have Sleep Apnea Too? By Paul Fulmer, MD

A new study out of Sweden ( shows an increasing number of women are developing sleep apnea.  What has often been thought of a man’s problem for years is now shifting to the female side of the equation.

Karl Franklin from the Uppsala and Umea University looked at 400 women taken from a sample of over 10,000 ranging in ages from 20 to 70 years of age.  They were questioned about their sleep and health, as well as underwent a sleep test.  Of these 400 women, half were found to have obstructive sleep apnea.  This is decidedly greater than the percentage of 6-8 %, which has been thought to be in the general population.

They also noticed a direct correlation between age, obesity and hypertension: 80% of women with hypertension and 84% of obese women suffered from sleep apnea.  Moreover, severe sleep apnea was present in 31% of the obese women ages 55-70yo.

These findings suggest that sleep apnea is NOT just a man’s disease.  And as clinicians become aware of the direct association in women between sleep apnea and obesity and hypertension, we should consider sleep as the underling culprit.  If you or your girlfriend/wife suffers from hypertension, obesity and is chronically tired, have them discuss a sleep evaluation with their doctor.  It might just save their life!!

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