Clinical characteristics of obstructive sleep apnea in community-dwelling older adults

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2006 Nov;54(11):1740-4. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2006.00924.x.


Objectives: To examine whether traditional risk factors are common in older adults with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

Design: Cross-sectional study.

Setting: Atlanta, Georgia.

Participants: A convenience sample of 94 community-dwelling adults aged 62 to 91.

Measurements: Demographic, medical, and sleep-related information obtained using questionnaires. Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS) and 72-hour voiding diary were used to determine daytime sleepiness and nocturia frequency, respectively. Overnight ambulatory sleep recording device was used to screen for OSA.

Results: Fifteen female and 15 male subjects had an apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) of 15 or more per hour of sleep (moderate to severe OSA). Traditional risk factors such as snoring, body mass index, and neck circumference were not significantly associated with OSA. An AHI of 15 or more per hour was independently associated with not feeling well rested in the morning, higher ESS score, and greater frequency of nocturia.

Conclusion: Traditional risk factors for OSA were not common presenting symptoms and signs in study subjects with an AHI of 15 or more per hour of sleep; this may contribute to underdiagnosis of OSA in this population. Subjects with an AHI of 15 or more per hour had more sleep-related complaints and excessive daytime sleepiness. Although occult, this suggests that OSA may contribute to disease burden in this group of people.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Risk Factors
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / physiopathology*