Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Is Daytime Sleepiness an Excessive Risk for Older Adults?

Excessive daytime sleepiness is common in older adults. But is it anything to be worried about?

new study from France may raise a few eyebrows. It links EDS in older adults with an increased risk of death.

The study involved 8,269 adults with an average age of 74 years. All of them were living in the community rather than in a nursing home. None of them had
dementia when the study began.

At the start of the study almost 19 percent of participants reported having regular or frequent EDS. The study group was followed for six years.

During this time 762 people died. Of these deaths, 196 were caused by
heart disease.

Results show that the older adults with EDS had a much worse survival rate. There was a 33 percent increase in their risk of death. There also was a 49 percent increase in their risk of death from heart disease.

So is EDS a symptom of heart disease? The relationship may not be so simple.

The study measured the resting heart rates of participants. Ultrasound also was used to examine the carotid artery of two-thirds of the study group. There were no differences between those with and without EDS.

Does this mean that EDS in some way triggers heart disease? The authors aren’t sure. But they suggest that EDS in older adults may not be as harmless as some might think.

They recommend that doctors should routinely screen older adults for EDS. Those who have EDS then should undergo a
sleep study to look for any underlying sleep problems.

Get Sleep Tips for Older Adults from the AASM.

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