Hormone replacement therapy and sleep-disordered breathing

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2003 May 1;167(9):1186-92. doi: 10.1164/rccm.200210-1238OC. Epub 2003 Jan 16.


Disordered breathing during sleep is more common among postmenopausal women than among their premenopausal counterparts, possibly because of declining levels of estrogen and progesterone. We examined the relationship between the use of replacement hormones and sleep-disordered breathing in a sample of 2,852 noninstitutionalized women, 50 years of age or older, who participated in the Sleep Heart Health Study. The frequency of apneas and hypopneas per hour of sleep (apnea-hypopnea index) was determined by unattended, single-night polysomnography at the participant's home. The prevalence of sleep-disordered breathing (apnea-hypopnea index of 15 or more) among hormone users (61 of 907) was approximately half the prevalence among nonusers (286 of 1,945). Multivariable adjustment for known determinants of the disorder, including age, body mass index, and neck circumference, has attenuated the association, but only moderately (adjusted odds ratio, 0.55; 95% confidence interval, 0.41 to 0.75). The inverse association between hormone use and sleep-disordered breathing was evident in various subgroups and was particularly strong among women 50 to 59 years old (adjusted odds ratio, 0.36; 95% confidence interval, 0.21 to 0.60). If the observed associations are causal, hormone replacement therapy could have a role in preventing or alleviating sleep-disordered breathing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Body Mass Index
  • Causality
  • Cohort Studies
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Estrogen Replacement Therapy* / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Odds Ratio
  • Polysomnography
  • Postmenopause* / drug effects
  • Prevalence
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / diagnosis
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / epidemiology
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / etiology*
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / prevention & control*
  • Sleep Stages / drug effects
  • United States / epidemiology