Even healthy seniors at risk of sleep apnea, researchers say

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Instances of respiratory disturbances, or "events" - especially sleep apnea syndrome - increase with age, even in healthy individuals without symptoms or signs of the syndrome, according to a study published in the journal SLEEP.

Researchers found that around half of healthy subjects over the age of 65 had a "respiratory disturbance index" of more than 15 events per hour, compared with only 5% of healthy subjects under 50. According to the study, many physicians consider 15 events per hour to be a clinically significant amount. Individuals who are untreated may develop an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, said study senior author Steven A. Shea, PhD, of Brigham & Women's Hospital in Boston.

According to the report, around 4% of men and 2% of women have obstructive sleep apnea, which causes a cessation of breathing during sleep. Millions more may remain undiagnosed. For more information about sleep apnea, treatments or the report, visit http://www.sleepeducation.com or http://www.journalsleep.com.