December 15, 2018
According to the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos, about 14% of Hispanic men and 6% of Hispanic women have obstructive sleep apnea in Jupiter, which is quite a bit higher compared to the general population (4% of men and 2% of women). Why is this serious sleep problem impacting one population more than others? A study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine sought to answer this question and also find a possible solution.
A Growing Problem
The study looked at a cross-sectional analysis of individuals examined during the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos, and one of the main things that stood out to researchers was the relatively high rate of obesity among the Hispanic population.
Obesity is by far the most common preventable cause of obstructive sleep apnea. When someone has excess fatty tissue around their neck, this makes it much easier for the airway to collapse and become blocked during sleep. Obesity is an issue that impacts most Americans, but due to a litany of factors, it is especially prevalent among Hispanic populations, making sleep apnea more common at the same time.
More Troubling News
The study also found that Hispanic men and women tend to suffer from higher rates of diabetes, hypertension, and other cardiovascular diseases as well, and this can be due in part to undiagnosed or misdiagnosed sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is extremely taxing on the entire body, particularly the heart, and it can also interfere with someone’s ability to process glucose, making diabetes much harder to control. The silver-lining is that by addressing sleep apnea directly, researchers believe that the prevalence of these other health problems can be significantly reduced in tandem.
Right now in America, about 80% of people with sleep apnea are not getting treatment and/or don’t even know that they have it. Access to information and care for sleep apnea is even more limited for Hispanic communities compared to others, and the language barrier can serve as a real obstacle as well.
Because of this, researchers recommend “the development and evaluation of culturally relevant detection and treatment approaches” specifically for the Hispanic population. In that vein, the National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project has started a program called “Dejar de Roncar,” or “Stop the Snore.” It’s intended to help people learn about the signs of sleep apnea and encourage them to get treatment.
Sleep apnea disproportionately affects Hispanic men and women, so efforts specifically designed to help this community are absolutely essential to improving the health and wellness of countless people. If you are Hispanic and believe that you or a loved one might have sleep apnea, you’re encouraged to visit www.dejarderoncar.us to get the resources you need to overcome it.
About the Author
Dr. Kenneth Mogell is a sleep dentist who has been providing sleep apnea appliances and helping people get sleep testing in Jupiter for more than 30 years. His website can be viewed in both English and Spanish, enabling patients to get the information they need in their native language. To learn more about sleep apnea and what you can do about it, Dr. Mogell can be contacted here.
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