Monday, July 1, 2013
A Wayne State University researcher has found that sleep apnea severity is higher among African-American men in certain age ranges, even after controlling for body mass index (BMI)
A study by James A. Rowley, M.D., professor of internal medicine in WSU's School of Medicine, showed that being an African-American man younger than 40 years old increased the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) by 3.21 breathing pauses per hour of sleep compared to a white man in the same age range with the same BMI. Obstructive sleep apnea affects at least 4% of men and 2% of women. It involves repetitive episodes of complete or partial upper airway obstruction occurring during sleep despite an ongoing effort to breathe. Among participants in Rowley's study ages 50 to 59, being an African-American man increased AHI by 2.79 breathing events per hour of sleep. No differences in AHI were found between African-American women and white women. "The results show that in certain age groups, after correcting for other demographic factors, the severity of sleep apnea as measured by the apnea-hypopnea index is higher in African-American males than Caucasian males," he said. Rowley said that the mechanism for a racial difference in sleep apnea severity is unclear, but that possibilities include anatomical differences that affect the upper airway mechanics and collapsibility, as well as differences in the neurochemical control of breathing.