woman looking at her skin in a hand held mirrorTraditionally, OSA has always been viewed as a male disease (3 to 1), however, OSA in women is becoming increasingly recognized.  Because of the discrepancy in the symptoms between women and men, women are often misdiagnosed or underdiagnosed.  Approximately 30 million adults in the U.S. have obstructive sleep apnea, the most common SDB condition.  A study in Sweden reveals 50% of women with OSA.

Women typically have less severe symptoms than men, lower AHI and shorter apneas.  Fat is also distributed differently in the airway for women as opposed to men. There is an increase in the prevalence and severity of SDB in women after menopause, so it has been suggested that hormones influence the upper airway.  Additionally, women may be at increased risk of OSA during pregnancy, as the uterus elevates the diaphragm while it grows.

“Stronger effects were shown in women than in men, despite men having less severe sleep-disordered breathing”

Something that no woman wants to hear is that OSA and/or SDB may speed up the aging process.  According to this study, AHI score is associated with greater age acceleration (215 days of biological age advancement for each standard deviation increase in AHI).

“If causal, results suggest that improving AHI and sleep fragmentation may positively affect age-related chronic diseases”

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