This is why postmenopausal women snore

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Middle-aged women with low estrogen and progesterone levels are more likely to snore and have symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea, according to a new study published this week in the journal ”
PLUS ONE
» by Kai Triebner of the
University of Bergen (Norway).

The prevalence of obstructive sleep apnea – in which breathing stops and starts during sleep – is known to be higher in women after menopause. However, no population-based study had previously examined whether this is the result of the study of sex hormone levels.

In the new work, data from 774 women between 40 and 67 years old of the Respiratory Health Survey of the European Community, carried out in seven countries between 2010 and 2012.

The women in the study participated in questionnaires about their respiratory health, women’s health factors, lifestyle and sleep, and gave blood samples for hormone analysis.

551 of the participants (71.2%) had been told that they snored, and 411 of them also reported other symptoms of sleep apnea. Overall, when serum estrone concentrations were doubled, there was a 19% decrease in the odds of snoring. And if they were multiplied by two levels of progesterone, the decrease was 9% of the chances of snoring.

Adjustment of female sex hormones could be a strategy to decrease the high prevalence and associated morbidity of obstructive sleep apnea.

The authors conclude that adjusting female sex hormones could be a strategy to decrease the high prevalence and associated morbidity of obstructive sleep apnea, but say more longitudinal studies are needed to confirm the results.

She adds: “Female sex hormones are crucial for health and disease, and especially after menopause hormonal status should be taken into account to develop holistic treatment strategies.”

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