Research targets snorers & their partners
6 March 2007
Medical problems involving sleep apnoea and snoring are the subject of two separate University studies.
At the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research, researchers are investigating whether treating sleep apnoea reduces the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
"A vicious cycle exists between sleep apnoea and metabolic syndrome which has been proved by a large body of evidence," said Professor Ron Grunstein, head of the institute's Sleep Research Group.
Sleep apnoea causes people to have "breathing pauses" while asleep and shallow breathing. It is often characterised by loud snoring and daytime sleepiness. At least 20 per cent of the adult population is thought to suffer from sleep apnoea, and left untreated it can lead to cardiovascular disease.
The aim of the research is to see whether treatment of sleep apnoea improves blood fat levels, a key component of metabolic syndrome. "Elevated levels of certain fats in the blood such as triglycerides are strongly associated with cardiovascular disease," said Professor Grunstein.
It is also known that patients with increased fat in the liver are more prone to developing type II diabetes.By treating sleep apnoea the team expects to demonstrate an improvement in these abnormalities.
The research team will track patients for five months during which time they will take part in three overnight sleep studies at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. Male volunteers over 21 years old who have been diagnosed with sleep apnoea are being sought to participate. To register or enquire about the study, phone 1800 828 717.
Meanwhile Professor Colin Sullivan from the Faculty of Medicine has found that snoring doesn't have to be loud to cause health problems - especially in women. "Although women generally snore less and more softly than men, recent studies have shown they have a greater risk of some of the adverse effects of sleep apnoea and may not know they have type II diabetes," he said.
Professor Sullivan was speaking before an international meeting in Sydney of 20 experts in the fields of diabetes, obesity, sleep medicine, cardiovascular medicine and epidemiology.
Women are also more likely to have undiagnosed problems, he said. "Partners of men who snore, gasp and snort for breath during sleep are often kept awake at night. Their own disrupted sleep often prompts them to encourage their partner to have a sleep assessment.
"However, because women's snoring is often much quieter and they tend to have partial or incomplete obstructions, their partner's sleep may not be disturbed and the sleep disorder may go unchecked," said Professor Sullivan.
Contact: Richard North
Phone: 02 9351 3720