November 12, 2014
Science Daily/Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Older women with disordered breathing during sleep were found to be at greater risk of decline in the ability to perform daily activities, such as grocery shopping and meal preparation, according to a new study.
The findings are notable given the aging of the population -- an estimated 3.7 million Americans will turn 65 in 2015, and by 2030, 19 percent of the U.S. population will be 65 or older -- and the fact that sleep-disordered breathing is treatable. Older adults are as much as four times as likely as middle-aged individuals to have problems with breathing during sleep.
Sleep-disordered breathing involves repeated interruptions or decreases in breathing during sleep, which often leads to fragmented sleep and hypoxemia, or low blood oxygen levels.
Doctors rate the severity of sleep-disordered breathing with the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI), which reflects the number of breathing interruptions (apneas) and the number of significant decreases in breathing (hypopneas) per hour of sleep.
The researchers say they believe it is the low blood-oxygen levels caused by sleep-disordered breathing that cause the trouble with daily tasks, and not sleep fragmentation, which is also increased by sleep-disordered breathing.