Sleep and Biological Rhythms

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 223–230 | Cite as

Polysomnographic comparison between Chinese and Caucasian patients with obstructive sleep apnea

  • Jonathan Pham
  • Alan Young
  • Y. T. Kuo
  • Denise M. O’Driscoll
Original Article


The Chinese population has a comparable prevalence of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) compared to their Caucasian counterparts, but are notably less obese. Given this difference in body weight, Chinese patients could have a distinct OSA phenotype. We aimed to compare the characteristics of obstructive events in Chinese and Caucasian individuals matched for OSA severity. Chinese and Caucasian subjects with moderate-to-severe OSA (apnea–hypopnea index (AHI) ≥ 20events/h) were included in the study (n = 90) and matched for age, gender and AHI. Data were analysed to identify differences in event type, effect of sleep state and body position, degree of hypoxemia, and prevalence of metabolic risk factors. Data presented are Mean ± SEM or Median (IQR). Chinese subjects had a significantly lower body mass index (BMI) compared to AHI-matched Caucasian counterparts [27 (25–30) versus 34 (30–39) kg/m2, p < 0.001]. Chinese subjects had more apneas compared to Caucasian subjects [14.4 (5.8–31.8) versus 8.1 (2.2–20.7) events/h, p = 0.011]. Events were longer in the Chinese group (apnea: 25.1 ± 1.2 s versus 19.3 ± 1.3 s, p = 0.001; hypopnea 25.3 ± 1.0 s versus 22.9 ± 1.0 s, p = 0.03), but were associated with less hypoxemia (% time < 90%: 14.6 ± 2.5 versus 25.0 ± 3.7%, p = 0.01). Chinese individuals with moderate-to-severe OSA have a distinct phenotype characterised by longer and more frequent apneas, yet less hypoxemia, in the setting of a lower BMI, compared to Caucasians of equivalent disease severity. Postulated mechanisms include differing upper airway anatomy, control of breathing or lung reserve.


Ethnicity Hypoxemia Apnea Chinese 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

Ethical approval for this study was granted by the Eastern Health Human Research Ethics Committee. For this type of study formal consent is not required.


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Copyright information

© Japanese Society of Sleep Research 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jonathan Pham
    • 1
  • Alan Young
    • 1
    • 2
  • Y. T. Kuo
    • 3
  • Denise M. O’Driscoll
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Respiratory and Sleep MedicineEastern HealthBox HillAustralia
  2. 2.Eastern Health Clinical SchoolMonash UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  3. 3.Monash Lung and SleepMonash HealthClaytonAustralia

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