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Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 1993 Dec;17(6):1179-83.

Sleep-disordered breathing in alcoholics: association with age.

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  • 1University of Michigan Alcohol Research Center, Ann Arbor.


Sleep apnea and related disorders are not uncommon in abstinent alcoholics. We assessed the relationship between age and the presence and severity of sleep-disordered breathing in alcoholism by performing one night of polysomnography on 75 abstinent alcoholic subjects undergoing treatment for alcoholism. Sleep-disordered breathing (defined as 10 or more apneas plus hypopneas/hr of sleep) was present in 17% of 66 men aged 22-76 and in 0 of 9 women aged 28-63 years. Three percent of men under age 40 years had sleep-disordered breathing compared with 25% of men between ages 40-59 and 75% of those above age 60. Although alcoholics with sleep-disordered breathing had a higher body mass index than those without, the increased frequency over age 40 was statistically significant after controlling for the effects of body mass index. Sleep in subjects with sleep-disordered breathing was significantly more disturbed than in subjects without sleep-disordered breathing. Our findings suggest that sleep-disordered breathing in older male alcoholics is more prevalent than has been reported in most studies of normal men and that the increase in sleep-disordered breathing that occurs with age in alcoholics is greater than the age-related increase in sleep-disordered breathing that occurs in healthy elderly men. Furthermore, sleep-disordered breathing is a significant contributor to sleep disturbance in a substantial proportion of male alcoholics above the age of 40 years.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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