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Who Is at Risk for Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea is a common condition. About half of the people who have this condition are overweight.

Men are more likely than women to have sleep apnea. Although the condition can occur at any age, the risk increases as you get older.  A family history of sleep apnea also increases your risk for the condition.

People who have small airways in their noses, throats, or mouths are more likely to have sleep apnea. Small airways might be due to the shape of these structures or allergies or other conditions that cause congestion.

Small children might have enlarged tonsil tissues in their throats. Enlarged tonsil tissues raise a child’s risk for sleep apnea. Overweight children also might be at increased risk for sleep apnea.

About half of the people who have sleep apnea also have high blood pressure. Sleep apnea also is linked to smoking, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and risk factors for stroke and heart failure.

Race and ethnicity might play a role in the risk of developing sleep apnea. However, more research is needed.

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July 10, 2012