Objective: Obesity is very common in patients with obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Longitudinal studies assessing OSA risk in PCOS and examining the role of obesity are lacking. Our objective was to assess the risk of OSA in women with vs. without PCOS and to examine the role of obesity in the observed findings.
Design: Population-based retrospective cohort study utilizing The Health Improvement Network (THIN), UK.
Methods: 76,978 women with PCOS and 143,077 age-, BMI- and location-matched women without PCOS between January 2000 and May 2017 were identified. Hazard Ratio (HR) for OSA among women with and without PCOS were calculated after controlling for confounding variables using multivariate Cox models.
Results: Median patient age was 30 (IQR: 25 – 35) years; median follow-up was 3.5 (IQR: 1.4 – 7.1) years. We found 298 OSA cases in PCOS women vs. 222 in controls, with incidence rates for OSA of 8.1 and 3.3 per 10,000 person years, respectively. Women with PCOS were at increased risk of developing OSA (Adjusted HR=2.26, 95% CI: 1.89 – 2.69, p<0.001), with similar HRs for normal weight, overweight and obese PCOS women.
Conclusions: Women with PCOS are at increased risk of developing OSA compared to control women irrespective of obesity. Considering the significant metabolic morbidity associated with OSA, clinicians should have a low threshold to test for OSA in women with PCOS. Whether OSA treatment has an impact on PCOS symptoms and outcomes needs to be examined.