What is the presentation of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in elderly patients?

Updated: Sep 15, 2020
  • Author: Himanshu Wickramasinghe, MD, MBBS; Chief Editor: Zab Mosenifar, MD, FACP, FCCP  more...
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The prevalence of OSA increases with age. [36] However, the clinical significance of OSA in healthy, community-dwelling people has been questioned because these people do not show significant sequelae (eg, sleepiness).

Elderly patients presenting to sleep centers for evaluation have similar symptomatology (including EDS) and PSG results compared with patients who are not elderly, except that elderly patients underreport snoring as a chief complaint, they tend to be less obese, and they are less objectively sleepy based on MSLT results. Thus, all elderly people, particularly if overweight, should be questioned about snoring, witnessed apneas, and daytime sleepiness and should be referred for evaluation if necessary.

Age does not appear influence compliance with CPAP therapy. [124, 125] Thus, all elderly patients with significant and symptomatic OSAHS should be offered therapy.

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