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Women suffer more sleep apnoea damage study

Margaret Jack  By Margaret Jack   |   Posted in Sleep Research   |   Last updated: Tuesday 12th February 2013

A new US study has revealed that women suffer more brain damage as a result of sleep apnoea compared to men. The sleep disorder, which is characterised by frequent pauses in breathing throughout the night, has been widely researched but the impact differences between genders had not prior to the UCLA investigation. Researchers found that the effects on the participants’ brains ‘white matter’, when compared to those of healthy sleepers, were more pronounced in women, indicating a more severe damage taking place. Particularly, the areas of the brain that deal with decision-making and mood were found to be affected, and this was borne out by female participants displaying higher symptoms of anxiety and depression.

It is expected that the findings will prompt a more urgent course of action once sleep apnoea has been diagnosed in women.

Sleep apnoea is a serious disorder that has previously been linked to a host of other health issues. The disruption in oxygen has been associated with conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure among others. Typically found in overweight individuals, a common treatment for the condition is a CPAP mask that distributes oxygen and opens the airway, but losing weight and adopting a healthy diet are a recommended response.

The UCLA study was published in this week’s SLEEP journal.

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