Influence of gender on continuous positive airway pressure requirements in patients with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome

Sleep Breath. 2011 Dec;15(4):781-4. doi: 10.1007/s11325-010-0436-2. Epub 2010 Nov 16.


Introduction: Gender differences have been noted in key aspects of upper airway physiology and pathophysiology of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). We postulate that these will lead to disparities in pharyngeal collapsibility and, consequently, positive airway pressure requirements of patients with OSA.

Methods: A retrospective review of 95 adult patients (56 women, 39 men) with OSA was done. Patients who underwent continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) titration were included in the study.

Results: The study groups were similar with regard to the severity of OSA (median apnea-hypopnea index of 34 in men and 24 in women, p = 0.13). The men were older and less obese than the women (mean age of 46 and 41 years, p = 0.03, BMI of 42 and 49 kg/m(2), p < 0.001, in men and women, respectively); Epworth score was similar in the two groups (12 vs.11, p = 0.91). CPAP requirement was higher in men than in women (12.7 vs. 10.2, p < 0.0001). The effect of gender on CPAP requirement was found to be significant even when confounding variables were accounted for using linear regression.

Conclusion: Men with OSA are more likely to require higher levels of CPAP support than women. The effect of gender on CPAP requirement persisted even after correcting for the severity of OSA.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Airway Obstruction / physiopathology
  • Airway Obstruction / therapy
  • Body Mass Index
  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Pharynx / physiopathology
  • Reference Values
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sex Factors
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / physiopathology
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / therapy*