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Sleep apnea increases risk of future hospitalization for older adults


Findings to be presented in national conference this week.

sleep apnea woman man cpap machine: © pathdoc -

© pathdoc -

Older patients with sleep apnea are more likely to wake up in a hospital bed than those whose airways remain open while at rest.

A new study found 21% greater odds of reporting future use of any health service for patients aged 50 years and older with sleep apnea, compared with those without sleep apnea. The 21% higher odds remained after controlling for demographics, body mass index, health conditions, and depressive symptoms, according to a news release.

The consequences deal with more than just a good night’s sleep. Timely identification and management of sleep apnea in older adults can have downstream effects on health care, said lead author Christopher N. Kaufmann, PhD, MHS.

“Addressing sleep apnea can not only improve individual health outcomes but also alleviate the strain on health care resources, leading to more efficient and effective health care delivery,” Kaufmann said in the news release.

The study involved 20,115 participants at least 50 years of age in the 2016 and 2018 Health and Retirement Study, a national cohort of middle-aged and older adults in the United States. Among them, 11.8% reported sleep apnea, according to the study.

The large-scale effects could add up. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine estimates almost 30 million American adults have sleep apnea, with the upper airway repeatedly collapsing during sleep. “Untreated, moderate to severe sleep apnea is associated with an increased risk of medical problems such as hypertension, coronary artery disease, atrial fibrillation, stroke, and type 2 diabetes,” the news release said.

An assistant professor at the University of Florida College of Medicine, Kaufmann was scheduled to present the findings June 4 at SLEEP 2024, the annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, a joint venture of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society. An abstract also was published online in the SLEEP 2024 Annual Meeting Abstracts.

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