Women with obstructive sleep apnea-hypopnea syndrome (OSAS) are less likely to be assessed or to receive an appropriate diagnosis, and they may have poorer quality of life and survival rates.
To assess gender-specific clinical differences in adult patients with OSAS.
A standardized clinical questionnaire and four sleep questionnaires (Berlin, Epworth Sleepiness Scale, STOP and STOP-Bang) were administered and anthropometric data were measured. Patients underwent an overnight in-laboratory polysomnography to confirm the diagnosis of OSAS. Receiver operating characteristic curves, sensitivity and specificity of clinical manifestations and sleep questionnaires were calculated.
Of 1,464 screened patients, 509 were female, 58.6% had moderate to severe OSAS. Clinical variables associated with OSAS risk in women were age, insomnia, nocturia, hypertension and cervical circumference. Paired by age and respiratory events, the snoring frequency was similar in both genders, although witnessed apneas and high cervical circumference and waist/hip ratio were more common in males. Morning headaches, insomnia, excessive daytime sleepiness, depression, anxiety and poor quality of sleep were more common in women. Women were older than men, more obese (although with an obesity pattern less centrally distributed) and referred hypertension, diabetes, depression and hypothyroidism with higher frequency. Sleep questionnaires performance were similar in both sexes.
It is likely that women with OSAS may partially be underdiagnosed due to circumstances related to a different OSAS clinical expression.