Variation in symptoms of sleep-disordered breathing with race and ethnicity: the Sleep Heart Health Study

Sleep. 2003 Feb 1;26(1):74-9.


Study objectives: To examine the relation of sleep-related symptoms to race and ethnicity in a diverse sample of middle-aged and older men and women.

Design: Cross-sectional questionnaire survey.

Setting: In the initial phase of the Sleep Heart Health Study, men and women enrolled in participating epidemiologic cohort studies were surveyed.

Participants: 13,194 men and women 40 years of age and older, including 11,517 non-Hispanic white, 648 black, 643 American Indian, 296 Hispanic, and 90 Asian-Pacific Islander.

Interventions: Not applicable.

Measurements and results: After adjustment for BMI and other factors, frequent snoring was more common among Hispanic women (odds ratio (OR) = 2.25, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.48, 3.42) and black women (OR = 1.55, 95% Ci = 1.13, 2.13) than among non-Hispanic white women. Hispanic men were significantly more likely to report frequent snoring than non-Hispanic white men (OR = 2.30, 95% CI = 1.43, 3.69). Black, American Indian, and Asian men did not differ significantly from white men in snoring prevalence. American Indian women were significantly more likely to report breathing pauses during sleep than their white, non-Hispanic counterparts (OR = 1.52, 95% CI 1.03, 2.24), although polysomnography data on a subset of the sample suggested that the association between this symptom reported on questionnaire and objective evidence of sleep-disordered breathing may be weaker among American Indians than among other groups. Mean Epworth Sleepiness Scale scores were slightly higher in black men and women than in their white, non-hispanic counterparts.

Conclusions: Frequent snoring was more common among black and Hispanic women and Hispanic men than among their white non-Hispanic counterparts, even after adjusting for BMI and other factors. Further research including polysomnography and objective measurements of sleepiness is needed to assess the physiologic and clinical significance of these findings.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Electroencephalography
  • Electrooculography
  • Ethnicity / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Polysomnography
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / diagnosis
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / epidemiology
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / ethnology*
  • Snoring / epidemiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*