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ANCHOR LEAD: How strong is the association of sleep apnea with death?  Elizabeth Tracey reports.

Sleep apnea, where people stop breathing for brief periods while asleep, has been shown to increase the risk of death from any cause, a Johns Hopkins study led by Naresh Punjabi has shown.  But just how strong is the association?

PUNJABI:  There are two points to make here.  The first point is that the risk that we have determined is stronger in men than women, and the risks in men seems to be most significant in those that are less than 70 years of age.  And in that subgroup we find that the risk for all cause mortality is two fold, so those that have sleep apnea  compared to those that don’t have sleep apnea, particularly severe sleep apnea, have a two fold increase in all cause mortality at 8-10 years of follow up.      :28

It’s estimated that 24 percent of American men and 9 percent of American women experience sleep apnea, with 4 out of 5 unaware of the problem.  Punjabi says all primary care physicians should be asking about the condition, often manifest as snoring.  At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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