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Revista chilena de enfermedades respiratorias

versión On-line ISSN 0717-7348


SALAS C., Constanza et al. Clinical features in patients with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome: differences by gender. Rev. chil. enferm. respir. [online]. 2019, vol.35, n.2, pp.104-110. ISSN 0717-7348.


Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is more prevalent in men, population studies show a ratio of 2:1, however in clinical studies the frequency is as high as 6:1. These differences in the clinical setting may be a consequence of variations in the reporting of symptoms in men compared to women.


To evaluate gender differences between women and men with recent diagnosis of OSA.


A cross-sectional, study of patients undergoing home sleep apnea testing (HSAT) with clinical suspicion of OSA. Demographic, anthropometric, comorbidities and HSAT variables were collected. We performed t student analysis, Mann-Whitney test or chi square test as appropriate.


1,044 patients were included: mean age 53.2 ± 14 years, 76% men. Women with OSA have a higher BMI (32.2 ± 6.1 vs 30.8 ± 5.0, p = 0.002), were older (61.4 ± 12.2 vs 52.6 ± 13.9, p <0.001), but have a lower neck circumference (NC) (38.1 ± 3.6 vs. 43.2 ± 3.3, p <0.001). The women presented lower AHI and shorter duration of apneas. Although the classic symptoms of apnea and daytime sleepiness showed no differences, women reported more frequently insomnia, morning headache, depression and use of hypnotic drugs.


Clinical differences between gender are present at time of diagnosis. Woman are older and more obese, although they have a lower NC. They have a milder disease, but they refer to be more tired, headache, insomnia and depression. We must be alert in the different clinical presentation of women to improve the diagnostic suspicion.

Palabras clave : Sleep apnea, obstructive; humans; males; females; antropometry; sleep; comorbidity.

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