New study links severe hot flashes with greater risk of obstructive sleep apnea

November 1, 2017, The North American Menopause Society

Many menopausal women complain about poor sleep. Should the problem be blamed simply on menopause or on a more serious underlying sleep disorder such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)? What, if any, is the connection between hot flashes, which can also lead to cardiovascular risk, and OSA? New study results being published online today in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS), examine that relationship.

Up to 80% of midlife experience hot flashes or night sweats. Although there is a known association between hot flashes and sleep disturbances in midlife women, it has proven difficult to distinguish those directly related to menopause from those because of OSA and other sleep disorders. Obstructive sleep apnea, which is more common in men than women, occurs more frequently as women age, gain weight, and reach perimenopause and postmenopause status. A sampling of perimenopausal and postmenopausal women who experienced disturbed sleep showed that 53% had a sleep disorder such as OSA, restless leg syndrome, or both.

The diagnosis of OSA in women can be more challenging because their symptoms are different from the more obvious ones that men experience, such as loud snoring. Symptoms for women more often include insomnia, headaches, fatigue, depression, and anxiety. Despite the challenges, the identification of OSA is important because it is associated with a significantly increased risk of heart disease, hypertension, stroke, depression, and death.

As reported in "Association of vasomotor symptoms and sleep apnea risk in midlife women," 1,691 women from the Mayo Clinic completed questionnaires. Of these women, 24.9% were classified in the intermediate and high-risk categories for OSA. These women were likely to be older and have a higher body mass index and a greater incidence of hypertension, among other findings. More pertinent to the results of this study was the fact that women reporting severe hot flashes in midlife were at a higher risk for OSA—1.87 times higher than in women with mild or no .

"Sleep disruption is a common complaint at menopause. It is important to recognize the high number of undiagnosed , including OSA," says Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, NAMS executive director. "Early morning headaches or excessive daytime sleepiness should raise concern for OSA and signal a possible need for sleep apnea testing."

Explore further: Study finds hormone therapy improves sleep quality for recently menopausal women

Related Stories

Study finds hormone therapy improves sleep quality for recently menopausal women

August 29, 2017
For many women, the side effects of menopause don't call it a day when they do.

Getting a good night's sleep and feeling better could be all in your head

October 11, 2017
For the thousands of peri- and postmenopausal women who struggle to sleep and battle depression, help can't come soon enough. Although physical changes during the menopause transition are often the cause of these problems, ...

Despite effectiveness women remain skeptical of hormones at menopause—what's the problem?

October 11, 2017
Women today have more options than ever before for treating their menopause symptoms, although hormone therapy still ranks as the most effective treatment for debilitating symptoms such as hot flashes. A new study demonstrates, ...

Obesity can lead to more severe hot flashes and other menopause symptoms

May 31, 2017
Vasomotor symptoms (VMS), such as hot flashes and night sweats, cause serious discomfort in many women at menopause. Studies show a higher frequency of VMS in women who gain weight during the postmenopause period, and the ...

Researchers review risks, recommendations for weight gain management in midlife women

October 2, 2017
A review of the weight gain risks and challenges faced by women in midlife has led Mayo Clinic researchers to a series of recommendations for this patient population. The findings are published in this month's edition of ...

Better sleep can lead to better sex

February 1, 2017
Sleep disturbance is common for many women during menopause, creating an array of adverse health outcomes such as heart disease, hypertension, and depression. A new study shows that sleep problems can also interfere with ...

Recommended for you

Juul e-cigarettes pose addiction risk for young users, study finds

October 19, 2018
Teens and young adults who use Juul brand e-cigarettes are failing to recognize the product's addictive potential, despite using it more often than their peers who smoke conventional cigarettes, according to a new study by ...

Self-lubricating latex could boost condom use: study

October 17, 2018
A perpetually unctuous, self-lubricating latex developed by a team of scientists in Boston could boost the use of condoms, they reported Wednesday in the journal Royal Society Open Science.

Engineered enzyme eliminates nicotine addiction in preclinical tests

October 17, 2018
Scientists at Scripps Research have successfully tested a potential new smoking-cessation treatment in rodents.

Nutrition has a greater impact on bone strength than exercise

October 17, 2018
One question that scientists and fitness experts alike would love to answer is whether exercise or nutrition has a bigger positive impact on bone strength.

How healthy will we be in 2040?

October 17, 2018
A new scientific study of forecasts and alternative scenarios for life expectancy and major causes of death in 2040 shows all countries are likely to experience at least a slight increase in lifespans. In contrast, one scenario ...

Study finds evidence of intergenerational transmission of trauma among ex-POWs from the Civil War

October 16, 2018
A trio of researchers affiliated with the National Bureau of Economic Research has found evidence that suggests men who were traumatized while POWs during the U.S. Civil War transmitted that trauma to their offspring—many ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.