We know that older Americans have a higher risk of sleep apnea than middle-aged adults, perhaps three times higher. And unlike younger women, postmenopausal women may have a sleep apnea risk that is as high as men their age. Some research suggests that every American over the age of 65 should be screened for sleep apnea.
Unfortunately, some have questioned whether older individuals could benefit from sleep apnea treatment. However, a new study shows that, in many ways, Americans over the age of 65 see the same benefits from sleep apnea treatment as younger individuals.
Same Subjective Benefits
Researchers from the Cleveland Clinic sought to find out if Americans over the age of 65 benefitted from sleep apnea treatment. They looked at data from 532 patients who came for treatment at the Clinic’s Sleep Disorders Center. They note that the center performs over 15,000 sleep tests a year, and the Nihon Kohden database has over 200,000 observations allowing them to properly match subjects and controls.
The population selected for this study consisted of 393 patients age 18 to 60 (average age 47) and 139 patients over the age of 60 (average age 69). All patients were treated using CPAP.
Researchers looked at data from the beginning of treatment as well as three, six, and 12 months into treatment. They then looked at the results of treatment using:
- Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS), a measure of daytime sleepiness
- Fatigue Severity Scale
- Patient Health Questionnaire-9
- Functional Outcomes of Sleep Questionnaire
Patients experienced positive change in all these measures. And the older patients had the same level of benefits as their younger cohorts.
What about Health Benefits?
With these subjective benefits verified, you might wonder about the objective health benefits of sleep apnea treatment for older Americans. There is good news and bad news about this. First, the bad news: older Americans might not have enough time to experience some of the long-term benefits of sleep apnea treatment in terms of heart and brain health.
However, the good news is that because they are older, they might not have enough time to experience the long-term negative impact of sleep apnea, too. And over the time frame of treatment, they would likely experience the same level of objective benefits as younger individuals.
It’s Never Too Late for Sleep Apnea Treatment
If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, it’s important to get your condition treated. Numerous studies have shown that it’s never too late to benefit from sleep apnea treatment. Even if you’ve previously had a heart attack or stroke, you can still benefit from sleep apnea treatment.