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Respiration. 2009;78(1):23-9. doi: 10.1159/000218143. Epub 2009 May 6.

Effects of age on the clinical features of men with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Asan Medical Center, Seoul, Korea.



There is little information on the differences in polysomnographic findings in obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) between elderly and young or middle-aged adults.


The aim of this study was to elucidate the clinical characteristics of elderly patients compared to young or middle-aged patients with OSAS.


A total of 757 male patients who were found to have OSAS (apnea-hypopnea index, AHI > or = 5) were enrolled. After nocturnal polysomnography, patients also completed the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index and Epworth Sleepiness Scale.


The patients were divided into three groups: ages 20-44 (n = 254), ages 45-64 (n = 373), and ages 65-86 (n = 130). Body mass index (BMI) and the proportion of overweight patients (BMI > or =25) were lower in the elderly group (ages 65-84) than in the other age groups (all p < 0.01). However, in the elderly group, there was a significant correlation between AHI and BMI (r = 0.28, p < 0.01), and BMI was a significant determinant of AHI (beta = 0.30, p < 0.01). In addition, the elderly group showed a high percentage of apneas among apneas and hypopneas ( p = 0.02) and increased duration of apnea-hypopnea (p < 0.01) compared to the other age groups.


Despite the occurrence of OSAS in the elderly with low BMI, the influence of body weight on the severity of OSAS was still significant in elderly patients. Age-related high collapsibility of the upper airways could explain the higher percentage of apneas and longer duration of apnea-hypopnea in the elderly compared to young or middle-aged patients with OSAS.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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