What is sleep apnea?
Aggravating risk factors tied to genetics
There are many factors that contribute to sleep apnea. Male gender, menopause, age and alcohol consumption certainly play a role. Science also suspects that direct or indirect genetic factors contribute to its development. Among these, some recurrent causes have been observed.
The risk of becoming obese is largely determined by heredity, with genetics influencing outcomes by 40% to 70% depending on the case. This predisposition may then be partly responsible for sleep apnea, especially when excess fat is stored in upper airway tissue.
Distinguishing genetics from other factors contributing to sleep apnea
Today, researchers believe that heredity is responsible for about 40% of sleep apnea cases. This means that if a close family member has sleep apnea, it increases your chances of developing the disorder by two to four times.
The scientific community is working hard to identify the specific genes involved in the process of developing sleep apnea, but the finish line is not yet in sight. It is an important effort, as it could encourage the development of new preventive methods and care strategies.
While the genetic component underlying obstructive sleep apnea is still somewhat mysterious, the research being conducted today will hopefully shed light on the treatments of tomorrow.
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- CHUM. (Undated). “L’apnée du sommeil.” https://www.chumontreal.qc.ca/sites/default/files/2019-02/207-2-Apnee-du--sommeil_0.pdf
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- P. Sleiman and H. Hakonarson. (November 2011). “Genetic Underpinnings of Obstructive Sleep Apnea: Are We Making Progress?” https://academic.oup.com/sleep/article/34/11/1449/2454533