Objective Sleep apnea syndrome is more prevalent among men than women and is frequently accompanied by metabolic syndrome (MetS). However, gender differences in the effect of sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) leading to the risk of MetS remain unclear. The aim of our study was to investigate the clinical characteristics of SDB in women and the differential influence of SDB on MetS between genders. Methods In a single-center retrospective study, we compared the data of 1,809 consecutive SDB patients by gender to clarify the characteristics of sleep disorders in women. We also compared the prevalence of MetS and its related abnormalities by gender. A logistic regression analysis was used to determine the contributory factors for MetS. Results The mean age and proportion of patients over 50 years of age were higher in women than in men. SDB was milder in women than in men according to polysomnography findings. Elevated Hemoglobin A1c levels and hyperlipidemia were less frequent in women than in men. The MetS prevalence was similar in women and men (30.0% vs. 35.2%). A logistic regression analysis showed that the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) was an independent risk factor for MetS in both genders, but that female gender was independently associated with a decreased prevalence of MetS and its related abnormalities. Conclusion Female SDB patients tend to be older with milder apnea and sleepiness than male SDB patients. A higher AHI is a significant risk factor for MetS in both genders, although female gender is an independent inhibitory factor for developing MetS in SDB patients.
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