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Smoking as a Risk Factor for Sleep-Disordered Breathing

David W. Wetter, PhD; Terry B. Young, PhD; Thomas R. Bidwell, MS; M. Safwan Badr, MD; Mari Palta, PhD
Arch Intern Med. 1994;154(19):2219-2224. doi:10.1001/archinte.1994.00420190121014.
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Background:  Recent evidence indicates that the prevalence of sleep-disordered breathing is remarkably high (24% for men and 9% for women) and that the public health burden attributable to sleep-disordered breathing is substantial. This investigation examines current and former cigarette smoking as potential risk factors for sleep-disordered breathing.

Methods:  Data were from 811 adults enrolled in the University of Wisconsin Sleep Cohort Study, Madison. The Sleep Cohort Study is a longitudinal, epidemiologic study that uses nocturnal polysomnography to investigate sleep-disordered breathing and other disorders of sleep. The presence and severity of sleep-disordered breathing was quantified by the frequency of apneas and hypopneas per hour of sleep.

Results:  Logistic regression analyses were used to control for potential confounding factors. Compared with never smokers, current smokers had a significantly greater risk of snoring (odds ratio, 2.29) and of moderate or worse sleep-disordered breathing (odds ratio, 4.44). Heavy smokers (≥40 cigarettes per day) had the greatest risk of mild sleep-disordered breathing (odds ratio, 6.74) and of moderate or worse sleep-disordered breathing (odds ratio, 40.47). Former smoking was unrelated to snoring and sleep-disordered breathing after adjustment for confounders.

Conclusions:  Current cigarette smokers are at greater risk for sleep-disordered breathing than are never smokers. Heavy smokers have the greatest risk while former smokers are not at increased risk for sleep-disordered breathing. Thus, smoking cessation should be considered in the treatment and prevention of sleep-disordered breathing.(Arch Intern Med. 1994;154:2219-2224)


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