New research results suggest that sleep apnea - which has often been linked to increased rates of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality - may actually contribute to higher survival rates in the elderly. The findings by Technion-Israel Institute of Technology researchers were presented last week in Glasgow, Scotland, at the 19th Annual Congress of the European Sleep Research Society.
Led by Prof. Peretz Lavie of the Faculty of Medicine, the study was conducted over a 4.5-year period, with researchers comparing mortality rates among elderly subjects diagnosed with sleep apnea to those of the elderly in the general population. Results were divided by to age, sex, and ethnic origin.
When mortality rates of 611 elderly patients with “light or no” sleep apnea, “moderate” sleep apnea, and “severe” sleep apnea were compared with the general population, those suffering from moderate sleep apnea had a mortality rate one-third of that of the general population. And mortality rates for the elderly with no sleep apnea, light sleep apnea and severe sleep apnea were on par with those of the general populace.