Sleep Apnea Subtypes Found in Hispanic/Latino Community

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In a new study, neurologists at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine reported three different subtypes of sleep apnea that are linked to cardiovascular risks among Hispanics. The study, “Cardiovascular correlates of sleep apnea phenotypes: Results from the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos,” was published online on April 4, in PLOS ONE journal.

Alberto Ramos, M.D., M.S.P.H.
Alberto Ramos, M.D., M.S.P.H.

Alberto Ramos, M.D., M.S.P.H., associate professor of neurology and research director of the Sleep Disorders Program at the Miller School, led the study as senior corresponding author. The team’s goal was to characterize obstructive sleep apnea phenotypes in Hispanics/Latinos and examine prevalent and incident stroke risk factors. The research was conducted as part of the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos.

“Identifying OSA phenotypes can facilitate personalized care, better inform treatment decisions, and could lead to improved clinical outcomes,” Dr. Ramos said. “We derived and characterized OSA symptom phenotypes among middle-aged and older Hispanics/Latinos and tested their associations with prevalent and incident stroke risk factors.”

Sleep Apnea Evaluation

Evaluating sleep apnea, a common disorder among the Hispanic/Latino population, and its relation to cardiovascular disease can provide new avenues to minimize the excess risk in the demographic. Currently, the apnea-hypopnea index is the primary diagnostic metric for sleep apnea. However, that metric doesn’t consider the varying symptoms and outcomes, leading to undiagnosed cases of sleep apnea.

For the study, subjective questions and objective sleep apnea measures were used to characterize different subtypes using novel and sophisticated statistical techniques. These characterizations revealed different cardiovascular and sociodemographic profiles and varying risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

Benson Wu, B.S.
Benson Wu, B.S.

The evaluation identified a three-class solution that clustered individuals into insomnia with sleep apnea, asymptomatic mild sleep apnea and symptomatic sleep apnea.

“The statistical techniques used to identify these phenotypes combined a set of comprehensive, traditional sleep apnea measures and reported symptoms,” said Benson Wu, B.S., first author of the study and a neuroscientist from the University of California San Diego. “These findings will create further opportunities for better diagnosis and more tailored treatments for sleep apnea.”

In addition, the results from the study should help inform intervention studies with clinical trials in sleep apnea. As sleep apnea is better characterized, it could lead to a more accurate examination between sleep and essential health outcomes like neurocognitive decline.

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