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Who is at Risk For SDB?

Excessive weight


Those with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of higher than 30 are at higher risk for being diagnosed with this disorder


BMI <25 normal

BMI   26-30 overweight

BMI >30 Obese

BMI >35 Morbidly Obese




Men are twice as likely than women to be diagnosed with sleep apnea and may be partially attributed to how women describe their symptoms. Sleep apnea in women is commonly mistaken for depression, hypertension, hypochondria or other disorders.




Women have the same incidence as men in developing SDB after menopause. 




SDB often leads to high blood pressure. We know now that 35% of all people with high blood pressure also have SDB.  


Increasing Age   


As we get older muscle tone decreases. This makes the dilator muscles in our airway become “floppier”. The older we get the more likely we will develop SDB.


Neck Size


A neck size neck larger than 17 inches for men, and 16 inches for women, gives one a higher chance of having SDB.



Alcohol decreases muscle tone. The tongue becomes more likely to fall to the back of throat after alcohol use. Most will snore much worse after a night of drinking. 


Size and Shape of Lower Jaw


A small chin or recessed lower jaw may increase the likelihood of SDB. The tongue is attached to the mandible, so if the chin is recessed, the opening at the back of our throat may be narrower. 


Low Thyroid Function


Patients with hypothyroidism may be at greater risk for developing SDB, due to multiple factors involving respiration, such as damage to the nerves or muscles involved in breathing. In addition, hypothyroidism may contribute to SDB through enlargement of the tongue (called macroglossia) or disruption of the muscles that control the upper airway. Also, patients with hypothyroidism are at risk for obesity, another factor that contributes to SDB.


Sedative and Muscle Relaxants  


Many sedatives and muscle relaxants may cause muscle relaxation and therefore contribute to the severity of SDB.




Smoking does not cause SDB, but it can make it worse. The airways become “stickier” and this may increase the likelihood and length of apneas.

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