London: Nearly half of women may have mild-to-severe sleep apnoea, according to a new Swedish study.
As many as 50 per cent of 400 adult women who were given overnight sleep tests turned out to have the sleep disorder characterised by abnormal pauses in breathing or instances of abnormally low breathing, during sleep.
Scientists monitored sleep patterns of the women overnight and found that half experienced at least five episodes an hour when they stopped breathing for longer than 10 seconds - the minimum definition of sleep apnoea.
Among women with hypertension or who were obese, the numbers were even higher, reaching 80 to 84 per cent of women.
Many of the women in the study represented mild cases of sleep apnoea.
"How important is the mild sleep apnoea, we don`t know," said Dr Karl Franklin, the lead author of the study and a professor at Umea University in Sweden.
Terry Young, professor in the School of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Wisconsin, said mild sleep apnoea is important to pay attention to.
"We see that it doesn`t go away and it gets worse," she said.
One recent study also found that women who have sleep apnoea are more likely to develop memory problems and dementia.
Researchers selected 400 women between the ages of 20 and 70 from a larger population sample of 10,000, and asked them to sleep overnight at home with sensors attached to their bodies.
The study found that apnoea became more common in the older age groups and among women aged 20-44, one quarter had the disorder, compared to 56 per cent of women aged 45-54 and 75 per cent of women aged 55-70.
Severe sleep apnoea, which involves more than 30 breathing disruptions per hour, was far less common. Just 4.6 per cent of women 45-54 and 14 per cent of women 55-70 had severe cases.
Among women of all ages with hypertension, 14 per cent had severe sleep apnoea, and among women who were obese, 19 per cent had severe apnoea.