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Respir Med. 2004 Oct;98(10):984-9.

Gender differences in obstructive sleep apnea syndrome: a clinical study of 1166 patients.

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Department of Pneumology, Virgen del Rocío University Hospital, Seville, Spain.


The objective of this study was to compare the frequency of some sociocultural, clinical, and anthropometric data between men and women in a sample of 1745 patients referred to a Sleep Unit for symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). A standardized questionnaire was administered and anthropometric data were measured. Patients underwent a polysomnography (during a night or a nap) or an overnight home cardiorespiratory polygraphy. A total of 1166 patients (male/female ratio 4.9:1) fulfilled criteria of OSA (apnea-hypopnea index > or = 10). Women were employed, habitual drivers or workers at risk occupations in a lower percentage than men. Women came to the clinical interview accompanied by their partner less frequently than men. The frequency of snoring and daytime hypersomnolence was similar in both genders, although witnessed apneas were more frequent in males. Fatigue, morning headaches, insomnia, depression and use of sedatives were more frequent in women than in men. Women were older than men, more obese (although with an obesity pattern less centrally distributed), and referred hypertension more frequently. It is concluded that it is likely that women with OSA may be underdiagnosed due to circumstances related to the family lifestyle and sociocultural factors in addition to different OSA clinical expression.

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