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Sleep Apnea Boosts Osteoporosis Risk

Update Date: Apr 15, 2014 05:52 PM EDT

Sleep apnea patients are more likely to suffer osteoporosis, according to a new study.

The latest findings revealed that the effect is particularly pronounced in women and seniors.

"Ongoing sleep disruptions caused by obstructive sleep apnea can harm many of the body's systems, including the skeletal system," one of the study's authors, Kai-Jen Tien, MD, of Chi Mei Medical Center in Tainan, Taiwan, said in a news release. "When sleep apnea periodically deprives the body of oxygen, it can weaken bones and raise the risk of osteoporosis. The progressive condition can lead to bone fractures, increased medical costs, reduced quality of life and even death."

The study involved records from Taiwan's single-payer National Health Insurance program to track treatment of 1,377 people who were diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea between 2000 and 2008.

Researchers compared the rate of osteoporosis diagnosis in this group of obstructive sleep apnea patients to 20,655 people matched in age and gender who did not suffer sleep apnea.

The findings show that the incidence of osteoporosis was 2.7 times higher among patients with sleep apnea than their counterparts. The findings held true even after accounting for age, gender, other medical problems, geographic location and monthly income. The study also found that women and older individuals faced increased risk of developing osteoporosis.

"As more and more people are diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea worldwide, both patients and health care providers need to be aware of the heightened risk of developing other conditions," Tien said. "We need to pay more attention to the relationship between sleep apnea and bone health so we can identify strategies to prevent osteoporosis."

The findings were published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM).

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