US Pharm. 2019;44(2):HS-6-HS-8.

Older males who experience extended episodes of interrupted breathing while asleep have a high risk of heart problems. Research shows for the first time that poor blood oxygenation is a good indicator of the chance of heart-related death that cannot be attributed to sleep apnea alone.

A team led by Associate Professor Dominik Linz and Associate Professor Mathias Baumert of the University of Adelaide’s Medical School and School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering in Australia published their study in the European Heart Journal. The research examined patterns of low blood oxygenation during sleep and the relation to heart-related deaths in 2,840 men aged in their 70s and early 80s.

“The study shows for the first time that poor blood oxygenation during sleep predicts the chance of heart-related death in elderly men. The study also demonstrates that reduced blood oxygenation cannot be attributed to episodic drops in oxygen alone,” said Linz.

“When the men had 12 or more minutes of sleep at low oxygen saturation below 90%, this increased the risk of heart-related death by 59%,” said Baumert. “Simple and affordable tools for overnight measurement of hypoxia levels are readily available. Tests can be performed at home or aged care facilities as part of a standard health check program,” he added.