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Sleep Apnea & Hot Flashes in Menopause

According to a new study published by the North American Menopause Society, menopausal women who suffer from severe hot flashes may also be at greater risk for sleep apnea. This is concerning because sleep apnea has been linked to increased risk for cardiovascular problems such as heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure. Sleep apnea causes pauses in breathing or shallow breathing that can affect sleep quality.

The study looked at approximately 1,700 middle-aged women. Of these women, around 25 percent were at an intermediate or high risk for obstructive sleep apnea. Factors that are considered to align with risk for sleep apnea include high blood pressure, older age, and higher levels of body fat.

During the study, women who reported severe hot flashes were almost twice as likely to have obstructive sleep apnea when compared with women who had no hot flashes or only mild hot flashes.

JoAnn Pinkerton, the executive director of the North American Menopause Society, stated that sleep disruption is a common complaint among menopausal women, and that many sleep disorders are undiagnosed.

It is important to note that while an association was found between severe hot flashes and sleep disorders, it did not prove that there was a cause and effect relationship. Patients should watch for symptoms such as excessive daytime fatigue or headaches upon waking, which could be signs of sleep apnea.

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