Risk Factors

There are several known risk factors for SDB in the elderly, including increasing age, male gender, obesity, and symptomatic status (19). The most predictive physical finding of SDB in younger adults is obesity [body mass index (BMI) greater than or equal to 28 kg/m2] (19), with approximately 40% of those with a BMI over 40 and 50% of those with a BMI over 50 having SDB (20). In the older adult, obesity is still a strong predictor of SDB (4,19,21).

Other risk factors for developing SDB include: the use of sedating medications, alcohol consumption, family history, race, smoking, and upper airway configuration (19). While few studies have explored the association between race and SDB, there is some evidence to suggest that SDB may be more severe but not more prevalent in older African-Americans compared to older Caucasians (22,23). Fiorentino et al. (24), however, found that the differences in sleep between older African-Americans and older Caucasians at risk for SDB may be better accounted for by health and socioeconomic status variables rather than by sleep variables.

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