Gender differences in clinical and polysomnographic features of obstructive sleep apnea: a clinical study of 2827 patients
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Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is underdiagnosed in females due to different clinical presentation. We aimed to determine the effect of gender on clinical and polysomnographic features and identify predictors of OSA in women.
Differences in demographic, clinical, and polysomnographic parameters between 2052 male and 775 female OSA patients were compared.
In female OSA patients, age (56.1 ± 9.7 vs. 50.4 ± 11.6 years, p < 0.0001) and body mass index (36.3 ± 8.6 vs. 31.8 ± 5.9 kg/m2, p < 0.0001) were increased, whereas men had higher waist-to-hip ratio and neck circumference (p < 0.0001). Hypertension, diabetes mellitus, thyroid disease, and asthma were more common in females (p < 0.0001). Men reported more witnessed apnea (p < 0.0001), but nocturnal choking, morning headache, fatigue, insomnia symptoms, impaired memory, mood disturbance, reflux, nocturia, and enuresis were more frequent in women (p < 0.0001).
The indicators of OSA severity including apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) (p < 0.0001) and oxygen desaturation index (p = 0.007) were lower in women. REM AHI (p < 0.0001) was higher, and supine AHI (p < 0.0001) was lower in females. Besides, women had decreased total sleep time (p = 0.028) and sleep efficiency (p = 0.003) and increased sleep latency (p < 0.0001). In multivariate logistic regression analysis, increased REM AHI, N3 sleep, obesity, age, morning headache, and lower supine AHI were independently associated with female gender.
These data suggest that frequency and severity of sleep apnea is lower in female OSA patients, and they are presenting with female-specific symptoms and increased medical comorbidities. Therefore, female-specific questionnaires should be developed and used for preventing underdiagnosis of OSA.
KeywordsObstructive sleep apnea Gender Obesity Polysomnography Symptoms
body mass index
continuous positive airway pressure
Epworth sleepiness score
forced expiratory volume in one second
forced vital capacity
non-rapid eye movement
oxygen desaturation index
obstructive sleep apnea
arterial partial pressure of carbon dioxide
arterial partial pressure of oxygen
rapid eye movement
slow wave sleep
The authors thank sleep technicians Bahar Yoruk, Yakup Coskun, and Merve Ozdemir in the Sleep Disorders Laboratory, Department of Chest Diseases, Ege University School of Medicine, for their valuable help in gathering the data related to the health of the patients. The authors also thank Timur Kose from the Department of Biostatistics, Ege University School of Medicine, for statistical assistance.
Compliance with ethical standards
No funding was received for this research.
Conflict of interest
All authors certify that they have no affiliations with or involvement in any organization or entity with any financial interest (such as honoraria; educational grants; participation in speakers’ bureaus; membership, employment, consultancies, stock ownership, or other equity interest; and expert testimony or patent-licensing arrangements) or nonfinancial interest (such as personal or professional relationships, affiliations, knowledge, or beliefs) in the subject matter or materials discussed in this manuscript.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study, and no identifying information about participants was available in the article.
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