Sleep Apnea Odds Are Higher for Blacks

Published Online: Tuesday, November 1, 2005

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is more prevalent among blacks, and they are less likely to seek treatment for the disorder, according to study results presented recently at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Otolaryngology -Head and Neck Surgery.

In order to have a random sample from the general population, the researchers set up a screening booth at a large Chicago health fair. Of the 523 participants interviewed, 287 (55%) were black and 236 (45%) were white. The black population had a higher average body mass index than the white: 32 vs 28. The researchers were able to assess the risks for sleep apnea by combining sleep apnea signs (eg, tongue position and tonsil and neck size) and giving them a numeric value. The results of the study showed that the OSA score was greater for blacks, compared with whites (7 vs 5.9, respectively). In addition, the blacks reported more incidents of daytime sleepiness, a key symptom of sleep apnea.

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