For Release: October 27, 1997
Jim Augustine (703) 644-6824
Mike White (703) 739-1363

Press Room (as of 10-26-97); (504) 670-6615


New Orleans - Although sleep apnea is generally associated with overweight
men, a Stanford study, released today at the annual scientific meeting of
the American College of Chest Physicians, found that Asians have more
severe obstructive sleep apnea than Caucasians.

Sleep apnea is a serious potentially life-threatening condition that
affects as many as 18 million Americans. Four percent of middle-aged men
and 2 percent of middle-aged women have sleep apnea. obstructive sleep
apnea, the more common and severe form of the disease, ccours when air
cannot flow into or out of the person's mouth or nose although efforts to
breath continue. Sleep apnea can also be characterized by choking
sensations. It contributes to excessive daytime sleepiness which has been
established as a risk factor for motor vehicle accidents. Early
recognition and treatment are also important because the condition may be
associated with irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, heart attack and

Dr. Kian Chun Ong and colleagues at Stanford University's Sleep Disorders
Clinic compared 105 Asian patients diagnosed with sleep-disordered
breathing to 99 similarly diagnosed Caucasians. The patients were matched
for age, gender, and body mass index. Outcome measurments included
questionnaire-based symptom scores, respiratory disturbance index, and
minimum oxygen saturation during sleep.

The study found that there was a significantly greater number of Asians who
had severe obstructive sleep apnea. Analyses showed that race was
associated with this difference independent of age, sex, or body mass
index, and minimum oxygen saturation during sleep. The estimated odds
ratio for Asians having severe obstructive sleep apnea was two and one-half
times greater than Caucasians.

Investigators expressed concern that obstructive sleep apnea may be
underdiagnosed in Asians and where the condition has been established, the
severity may be underestimated.