Fully half of the 400 women given overnight sleep tests in a new Swedish study turned out to have mild-to-severe sleep apnea.
In the random population sample of adult women who answered a questionnaire and were monitored while sleeping, half experienced at least five episodes an hour when they stopped breathing for longer than 10 seconds, the minimum definition of sleep apnea.
Among women with hypertension or who were obese - two risk factors for sleep apnea - the numbers were even higher, reaching 80 to 84 percent of women.
Many of the women in the study represent mild cases of sleep apnea.
"How important is the mild sleep apnea, we don't know," said Dr. Karl Franklin, the lead author of the study and a professor at Umea University in Sweden.
Terry Young, a professor in the School of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Wisconsin, said mild sleep apnea is important to pay attention to.
"We see that it doesn't go away and it gets worse," she said.
Sleep apnea is tied to a higher risk of stroke, heart attack and early death.
One recent study also found that women who have sleep apnea are more likely to develop memory problems and dementia (see Reuters Health story of August 9, 2011).
Franklin said his group wanted to get updated evidence of how common the condition is.
The researchers selected 400 women between the ages of 20 and 70 from a larger population sample of 10,000, and asked them to sleep overnight at home with sensors attached to their bodies.
The sensors measured heart rate, eye and leg movements, blood oxygen levels, air flow and brain waves.
Each apnea event was defined by at a least a 10-second pause in breathing accompanied by a drop in blood oxygen levels.
Women who had an average of five or more of these events during each hour of sleep were considered to have sleep apnea.
The study, which was funded by the Swedish Heart Lung Foundation, found that apnea became more common in the older age groups.
Among women aged 20-44, one quarter had sleep apnea, compared to 56 percent of women aged 45-54 and 75 percent of women aged 55-70.
Young said these numbers are higher than her own estimate, but that's likely because she used a more strict definition of sleep apnea than Franklin's group.
Franklin also said his equipment, being newer, is more sensitive in detecting interruptions in breathing.
Severe sleep apnea, which involves more than 30 breathing disruptions per hour, was far less common.
Just 4.6 percent of women 45-54 and 14 percent of women 55-70 had severe cases.
Among women of all ages with hypertension, 14 percent had severe sleep apnea, and among women who were obese, 19 percent had severe apnea.
Franklin said that if physicians are looking for sleep apnea among women, examining those who are obese, over 55 or have hypertension is a good place to start.
Young said sleep apnea is often thought of as a condition of men, but identifying women with it is especially beneficial, because her research has shown that women are good at sticking with treatment.
"The prejudice of excluding women (as potentially having sleep apnea) has been rampant for a long time. It's gotten better, however, and the (public health) gain in identifying women with sleep apnea is great," she said.
SOURCE: http://bit.ly/OVDdPN European Respiratory Journal, online August 16, 2012.
Security forces in Liberia were ordered to enforce the action plan, which includes placing all non-essential government workers on 30-day compulsory leave.
Scientists analysed blood samples from 1,241 malaria patients in 10 countries across Asia and Africa and found resistance to the world's most effective antimalarial drug.
The death of Sheik Umar Khan, who was credited with treating more than 100 patients, follows those of dozens of local health workers and the infection of two American medics in neighbouring Liberia
The hospital will be shut for a week and all staff monitored to ensure the virus has not spread
The new measures announced by the government came as Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone struggle to contain the worst outbreak yet of the virus.
Angry crowds gathered outside the country's main Ebola hospital in Kenema where dozens are receiving treatment for the virus, and threatened to burn it down and remove the patients.
Asia’s largest copper mine in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh is causing serious damage to the environment.
The victim has been identified as Patrick Sawyer, a 40-year-old Liberian who arrived in Lagos on Sunday.
An MSF report found that malaria cases in Bossangoa had more than tripled to 6,507 in May with almost two-thirds of those children under the age of five.
If confirmed, the case would be the first on record of one of the world's deadliest diseases in Nigeria, Africa's biggest economy and, with 170 million people, its most populous country.
Researchers said the findings challenge the universal endorsement of paracetamol as the first choice painkiller for lower back pain.
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Shanghai food watchdog said it sealed more than 1,000 tonnes of suspected meat products from OSI in China, and a further 100 tonnes of products from a range of its customers.
Children in Syria are at greatest risk as routine immunisation has been disrupted and many health centres are severely damaged after more than three years of conflict
151 people who came into direct contact with the victim were also placed in quarantine.
Viruses that spread through air - such as flu viruses for example - are far more likely to spread swiftly and widely in human populations