Press Releases

2000 Releases

Researchers Find Possible Link Between Snoring and Cardiovascular Disease in Women

For immediate release: February 01, 2000

Boston, MA--Researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) and Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) have found that snoring may be a marker for an increased risk of cardiovascular disease in women, independent of age, smoking, obesity and other risk factors. This is the latest finding of the BWH-based Nurses' Health Study and is published in the February, 2000 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Other studies examining snoring and cardiovascular disease have supported a positive association between the two, but most have only focused on men, included a small number of participants and had short follow-up periods. The Nurses' Health Study provided a unique opportunity for researchers to investigate the same association in women, analyzing 71,779 participants and utilizing eight years of follow-up.

"We found that women who regularly snored and those who occasionally snored were 33% and 20% respectively more at risk of cardiovascular disease when compared to women who did not snore," said Meir Stampfer, MD, DrPH of BWH, co-author of the study.

Researchers analyzed the relationships of snoring patterns and cardiovascular disease in women who were 40 to 65 years old and free of cardiovascular disease at the beginning of the study -- 25% of women reported never snoring, 65% reported occasional snoring and 10% reported regular snoring. A total of 644 heart attacks and 398 strokes were documented.

Women who reported snoring regularly were more likely to sleep on their back, smoke cigarettes, use alcohol and had a longer duration of night shift work. They tended to be slightly older, heavier, less physically active and had a higher prevalence of hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol at baseline.

Even after researchers controlled for such variables, a significant positive association between snoring and cardiovascular disease persisted.

"Our findings will hopefully alert clinicians to pay special attention to their patients who regularly and occasionally snore, and to work with those women to manage other cardiovascular risk factors including body weight, diet and exercise," said Dr. Stampfer.

The Nurses' Health Study was initiated in 1976 at Brigham and Women's Hospital. The NHS is the longest major women's health study ever undertaken and has resulted in hundreds of journal articles, many containing groundbreaking findings on how to prevent some of the major causes of disease and death in women.

For further information, please contact:

Robin Herman
Director of Communications
677 Huntington Avenue
Boston, Massachusetts 02115
Phone: 617-432-4752
Email: rherman@hsph.harvard.edu

Christine Baratta, Brigham and Women's Hospital, (617) 732-5008
Tricia Oliver, Brigham and Women's Hospital, (617) 732-5008
Robert Hutchison, Brigham and Women's Hospital, (617) 732-5008