Gender differences in obstructive sleep apnea and treatment implications

01 Dec 2008
Respiratory topics
  • Disease management
  • Gender
Type of resource
Peer-reviewed article
Lin CM, Davidson TM, Ancoli-Israel S


Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common cause of daytime sleepiness for millions of Americans. It is also a disease associated with an increased likelihood of hypertension, cardiovascular disease, stroke, daytime sleepiness, motor vehicle accidents, and diminished quality of life. A number of population-based studies have shown that OSA is more common in men than in women and this discrepancy is often evident in the clinical setting. There are a number of pathophysiological differences to suggest why men are more prone to the disease than women. Although the exact mechanisms are unknown, differences in obesity, upper airway anatomy, breathing control, hormones, and aging are all thought to play a role. The purpose of this review was to examine the literature on gender differences in OSA and to analyze whether or not these differences in pathogenic mechanisms affect diagnosis or treatment.