Sleep-disordered breathing in the healthy elderly. Clinically significant?

Chest. 1992 Feb;101(2):345-9. doi: 10.1378/chest.101.2.345.


We evaluated sleep/wake, medical, and psychological parameters in a cohort of healthy men and women between 50 and 80 years of age. Consistent with previous investigations of sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) in older persons, nocturnal breathing disturbances were quite common in our normal-aged subjects, with more than 15 percent experiencing five or more SDB events per hour of sleep. However, when SDB indices were correlated with comprehensive measures of daytime functioning, the number of statistically significant relationships was at or below expectations from chance alone. Additionally, comparison of high-SDB subjects (AHI greater than or equal to 5) with low-SDB subjects (AHI less than 5) failed to reveal reliable differences on measures of daytime functioning. We conclude that SDB occurring in otherwise healthy older persons is not a cause for immediate concern, although longitudinal studies may yet demonstrate significant long-term sequelae of SDB in this population.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology*
  • Female
  • Hemodynamics
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Respiration / physiology
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / physiopathology*
  • Sleep Stages / physiology