A February study found sleep apnea deaths decreased among white people in the past two decades. Now, experts have identified a racial health disparity in sleep apnea as the rate at which Black men are dying continues to rise.
Dr. Yu-Che Lee said in a statement, “Our study showed that Black men were the only demographic group to have a continuous sleep apnea mortality increase in the last 10 years, which is truly concerning."
The most common sleep-related breathing disorder, sleep apnea has been linked with systemic hypertension, abnormalities in glucose metabolism, and mortality.
Lee said, “This is the first study to demonstrate the disparities of sleep apnea-related mortality and different mortality trends between Black and white Americans." She continued, “These findings should give clinicians some insights into the problem to develop more tailored strategies and treatments to reduce racial disparities in outcomes from sleep apnea.”
Dr. M. Jeffery Mador attributed the racial disparity to underdiagnosis among Black patients.
Mador said in a statement, “Even when diagnosed, successful treatment is lower in Black people than the general population." He added, “Untreated sleep apnea is associated with higher levels of hypertension, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, all of which are common in Black patients."
"Hopefully, increasing awareness and improving efficacy of treatment may lead to better health outcomes in this patient population," Mador said.