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There exists a racial and gender disparity in sleep disorder related mortality in the U.S.

The impact of sleep disorders and mortality rate for minorities and women in the United States should be treated as a more pressing concern by public health and primary care. Despite the studies which show some correlation, the possible causal factors are complex and multi-factorial.

Background: Sleep apnea is one of the most common sleep disorders in the United States (US). Although the prevalence, risk factors, and clinical presentations of sleep apnea vary by racial groups, the racial disparity in sleep apnea-related mortality remains unclear.

Methods: Sleep apnea-related mortality for 1999-2019 was obtained from the National Center for Health Statistics provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We examined the mortality trends for sleep apnea using Joinpoint regression analysis and compared the associated outcomes and multiple causes of death between Blacks and Whites.

Results: For 1999-2019, sleep apnea was documented as the underlying cause of death in 17,053 decedents, with 2593 Blacks and 14,127 Whites. The overall age-adjusted mortality rates in all population, Blacks, and Whites were 2.5, 3.5, and 2.4 per 1,000,000 population, respectively (P < 0.001). Both Blacks and Whites had the highest mortality rates in the Midwest and the lowest in the Northeast. Despite the flattened mortality trend in the last decade overall, Black males had a continuous mortality increase over the study period (Annual Percentage Change 2.7%, 95% CI: 1.2-4.2). For both genders of sleep apnea decedents, Blacks were more likely to have multiple cause of death of Cardiac Arrest, Hypertension, Obesity, and Chronic Renal Failure, but Arrhythmia was more common in Whites (P < 0.05).

Conclusions: There is a significant racial disparity in sleep apnea-related mortality in the US. The uptrend in mortality in Black males and associated outcomes related to cardiovascular disease should raise concerns specifically in Blacks with sleep apnea.

Rod NH, Vahtera J, Westerlund H, Kivimaki M, Zins M, Goldberg M, Lange T. Sleep disturbances and cause-specific mortality: Results from the GAZEL cohort study. Am J Epidemiol. 2011 Feb 1;173(3):300-9. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwq371. Epub 2010 Dec 30. PMID: 21193534; PMCID: PMC3105272.

Disrupted sleep is linked to increased risk of death, particularly in women. Cardiovascular, 8000 people, European study,;
Participants- 2782 men in the Osteoporotic Fractures in Men Sleep Study (MrOS), 424 women in the Study of Osteoporotic Fractures (SOF), and 2221 men and 2574 women in the Sleep Heart Health Study (SHHS).

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