The classic manifestations of sleep apnea -- loud snoring, interrupted breathing and sleep disruption -- nearly double the risk for chronic disease and premature death among middle-aged and elderly men, according to major new research.
Even patients with moderate sleep apnea face an increased death risk, as much as 17 percent, compared with those who do not have sleep-disordered breathing problems, the decade-long U.S. study finds.
"The primary finding of our study is that sleep apnea can increase the risk of death by about 40 percent, even after other factors have been accounted for," said study lead author Dr. Naresh Punjabi, an associate professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore , Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.
"Sleep-Disordered Breathing and Mortality: A Prospective Cohort Study," is published in the August 18 issue of the open-access journal PLoS Medicine.
To reach the conclusion, researchers from the Sleep Heart Health Study (SHHS) studied more than 6,000 men and women aged 40 years and older who had no sleep apnea or had mild, moderate, or severe sleep apnea as determined by a standard at-home sleep test at the beginning of the study , Times of India reports.
Punjabi's team studied 6,400 men and women for an average of eight years. Those who started with major sleep apnea were 46 percent more likely to die from any cause, regardless of age, sex, race, weight or smoking, they reported in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS Medicine , New York Daily News reports.