Heart Risk for Women and Snoring

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) which is characterized by pauses in breathing while sleeping and snoring, may cause heart function problems sooner in females that in males. women than in men, according to a study (which included almost 5,000 participants) at a Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) meeting.  And what is more important, the study suggested that OSA is not diagnosed correctly when snoring is present—it goes undiagnosed to a great extent.  Snoring and excessive daytime tiredness and the two most common symptoms of OSA which can be deadly.

Subjects in the study had a heart MRI were grouped into three types—patients diagnosed with OSA, Patients who reported that they snored, and those without OSA or snoring.  While comparing the unaffected patients with the snoring patients, the study found a bigger difference in the left ventricular mass of the heart in the females than in males. The heart alterations in snorers indicated that there is a relatively large number of OSA patients who are undiagnosed.

“We found that the cardiac parameters in women appear to be more easily affected by the disease and that women who snore or have OSA might be at greater risk for cardiac involvement,” Dr. Curta, one of the researchers, said. “We also found that the prevalence of diagnosed OSA in the study group was extremely low. Together with the alterations in cardiac function in the snoring group, it leads us to believe that OSA may be grossly underdiagnosed.”

The results of the study indicate that it is very important for those who snore to get tested for OSA, and properly treated if the test results are positive for OSA.