Obstructive sleep apnea has many different risk factors including high blood pressure, smoking, and the most common, high BMI. But what you don’t usually hear about is another risk factor that if often overlooked. Race is another risk factor for obstructive sleep apnea, says a recent study conducted by researchers at the Wayne State University School of Medicine.
A study of 512 patients was done at the Detroit Receiving Hospital Sleep Disorders Center from July 1996 through February 1999. The severity of the sleep apnea that people experienced was higher in African-American men who were either under 40 or between 50 and 59. There was no difference between white women and African-American women however.
James Rowley, PhD, was the lead researcher on the study. He is a professor of medicine at Wayne State Medical and Director of the sleep disorders center. He states that it is unclear as to why there is a difference in the severity of sleep apnea between races, but it may have something to do with the anatomy and differences in the way the upper airway opens and closes, as well as the control of breathing.
This was not the first study that has shown differences in sleep quality between races. In Boston, at the annual Associated Professional Sleep Societies meeting last year, it was reported that the quality of sleep and the amount of sleep that people got every night varied between race and ethnicity.
One study showed that Asians and blacks do not sleep as much as whites do. Another study showed that Americans who were not born in the country were less likely to report sleep problems as opposed to those born in the country. These studies, unlike Rowley’s, state that these differences are caused by environment and geography as opposed to the way the body works.