An individual's looks may predict a sleep disorder. A recent study, the results ofwhich were reported in Thorax, showed that individuals with a steep jaw line and acrowded or narrowed air passage at the back of the throat have greater odds ofobstructive sleep apnea (OSA). To determine whether facial profile influences OSA,the researchers examined 239 consecutive patients who were referred to sleep clinicsin Hong Kong and Vancouver for suspicions of sleep-disordered breathing.
The researchers explained that key factors leading to narrowing of the airway includeobesity, variations in facial bony structure, or a combination of both. They noted thatcraniofacial abnormalities may be a more significant factor in some ethnic groups.
"Our study showed that, in a mixed sample of patients of both sexes that includedwhites and Asians, a crowded or narrowed air passage at the back of the tongue andsoft palate and a steep jaw line were the best predictors of OSA, regardless of thepatients' ethnic group or their degree of obesity," said researcher Frank Ryan, MD.
Physicians can easily identify abnormalities of the craniofacial profile during routineclinical examinations. These abnormalities are a possible helpful tip-off to the possibilityof OSA, he suggested.