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New Study Finds Symptoms Of Menopause Linked To Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Hot flashes and night sweats experienced during menopause may be linked to sleep apnea, new data finds. According to a new study published in Menopause, the journal of the North American Menopause Society, the night sweats and hot flashes so commonly attributed to menopause may be linked to a higher risk of obstructive sleep apnea.

The authors of the study used data from the Data Registry on Experience of Aging, Menopause and Sexuality. The researchers found that, between May 2015 and December 2016, reports of hot flashes and night sweats were experienced by those at higher risk for OSA.

The most common type of sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea is defined as routine stops and starts in a person’s breathing during sleep. Seven to nine hours of sleep is generally recommended for optimal rest. Obstructive sleep apnea can interrupt sleep cycles and increase the risk of serious health issues. For women, these health issues include high blood pressure, stroke, and coronary heart disease.

Menopause is known to cause an array of sleeping problems including insomnia, anxiety, hot flashes, and also breathing difficulties. For this reason, researchers found that those experiencing menopause without other risk factors for OSA were still at higher risk for sleep apnea.

“Obstructive sleep apnea is often thought of as a man’s disease, and men’s symptoms are more outwardly noticeable, in large part because of snoring,” said Stephanie Faubion, M.D.

“However,” Faubion added, “the risk for [OSA] in women goes up in their menopausal years. The symptoms they face … may not be as audible or visible to others, but they pose just as much risk to overall health.”

Up to 65% of those who proved to be at high risk of OSA failed to be diagnosed with the sleep disorder two years after the patients reported their symptoms. Faubion explains that symptoms of sleep apnea and other serious health problems may be overlooked in the face of menopause. However, by using screening tools we may be able to detect health problems in women more successfully and diagnose patients with obstructive sleep apnea earlier.




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