Whether they live in Europe or North America, overweight male smokers who have a large neck sizes most frequently experience breathing pauses caused by obstructive sleep apnea. People of African descent appeared to have a heightened risk, report the authors of a recent study in the journal Sleep and Breathing.
The study involved 121 patients, age 40 or younger, in Brussels, Belgium. Most of the participants were men. 42 percent were of African origin.
Each of the participants was referred by a physician for an overnight sleep study between 2007 and 2009.
The average male participant experienced 39 breathing pauses per hour, an indication of severe sleep apnea. Africans had nine more pauses on average.
Many of the Belgian OSA patients were diagnosed with additional medical ailments. More than a quarter had high blood cholesterol. 1 in 5 had hypertension. And 13 percent had diabetes, depression or acid reflux.
If left unchecked obstructive sleep apnea lead to serious heart problems or even death. It can also lower your quality of life by preventing you from getting restful sleep.
Luckily there are several treatment options available. CPAP therapy is the front-line treatment for severe cases. Many patients elect to have surgery for OSA. A mouthguard-like device called an oral appliance is effective for light to moderate sleep-disordered breathing.
Photo by Vase Petrovski