Sleep Apnea Frequently Missed in Black Americans

Statistics indicate that nearly 42 million adults living in the United States live with sleep apnea. If not diagnosed and treated, the disorder often leads to an increased risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and other health issues. A study performed by researchers found that a large number of African-American adults live with sleep apnea that has not been diagnosed or treated.

 

Jackson Heart Sleep Study

 

The study involved 852 men and women of African-American descent for the project. The average age of the adults was 63. During the course of the sleep study, the researchers found 24 percent of the participants suffered from moderate to severe sleep apnea. The scientists also found that up to 15 percent of the sleep apnea sufferers were female. However, only five percent of the volunteers had been diagnosed by a health care provider. The data suggests that 95 percent of the people had the problem but were never diagnosed or treated.

 

The study revealed that the sleep apnea sufferers had chronic snoring problems. They also had an abnormally high body mass indexes and larger neck circumferences.

 

The director of the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research from the National Institutes of Health believes that the study’s findings were revealing. Although the data indicates that more research is necessary to further develop the programs needed to ensure that more African-Americans receive diagnosis and treatment for the disorder, this is a significant starting point. More research on the topic will make that possible in time, and the hope is that more research will allow doctors to diagnose more people who suffer from sleep apnea with more accuracy.

 

About Sleep Apnea

 

Sleep apnea is classified as either central or obstructive. Central apnea occurs secondary to abnormal breathing patterns. Obstructive apnea involves a narrowing of the airway, which closes off air intake through the throat. Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form of the disorder.

 

While asleep, the blockage causes an increase in carbon dioxide and a decrease of oxygen in the body. An individual may temporarily awaken to open the airway by engaging the upper respiratory muscles. They then typically take a number of deep breaths and fall back to sleep. Most do not remember the incident.

 

In either form of the disorder, affected individuals do not experience a restful sleep. They commonly feel unusually tired during the day without knowing the reason. The general fatigue can lead to an increased risk of becoming involved in an automotive accident. A loss of the ability to focus and concentrate also commonly affects work performance.

 

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