As if Menopause Isn’t Bad Enough…, March 2011
Mood swings, hot flashes and night sweats are just some of the symptoms that women face in those years of life between peri- and post-menopause. But what many don’t realize is another condition, sleep apnea, becomes more common in women as they go through menopause, with the majority of those experiencing more apnea episodes in their later post-menopause years. In addition, in the menopause years, the episodes are also more severe.
While hot flashes are commonly the target of blame for women who report sleep deprived nights, the underlying cause of their sleepless nights and corresponding daytime fatigue may actually be sleep apnea for many. Clinical researchers at the University of Toronto and St. Michael’s Hospital believe that post-menopausal sleep apnea is likely due to decreased levels of female hormones.
Research conducted at St. Michael’s Hospital Sleep Laboratory compared 290 pre- and 400 post-menopausal women, and ruled out obvious other causes of apnea such as obesity and neck size. They found that 47 percent of post-menopausal women suffered from sleep apnea, compared to 21 percent of pre-menopausal women, and that the condition was more severe in the post-menopausal group. Dr. David Dancey, of the University of Toronto and St. Michael’s Hospital where is a Fellow of Clinical Research in its sleep lab stated, “We think the difference may be due to the lower levels of estrogen and progesterone caused by menopause.” The study excluded women who experienced menopause at an early age or who underwent hormone therapy.
Although this in-depth study was conducted over a decade ago, there has been little attention paid to the risk of sleep apnea in menopausal women, or to those who suspect they may have it, but are reluctant to get treatment. This is unfortunate because in addition to the daytime symptoms brought on by fatigue such as poor concentration and job performance, memory loss and more; sleep apnea is a serious condition that can lead to lung and heart problems, and even stroke.
With the latest advances in technology, diagnosis and treatment have never been more convenient. For example, with the new home sleep study, many patients are no longer required to stay overnight at a sleep lab to get their testing done, and may do so in the comfort of their own home. Also for many, a cumbersome CPAP machine is no longer the “gold standard” in apnea treatment. The Pillar® Procedure and Balloonplasty™ are just some treatments that can be accomplished with an office visit to a snoring specialist.
>> back to top
Comments are closed