April 7, 2022 —In a newly published study, neurologists at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine have found three different subtypes of sleep apnea linked to cardiovascular risks among Hispanics. The study titled “Cardiovascular correlates of sleep apnea phenotypes: Results from the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos” were published online on April 4, in PLOS ONE journal. 

 Alberto Ramos, M.D., M.S.P.H., associate professor of neurology and research director of the Sleep Disorders Program at the Miller School, led the study as senior corresponding author. His team’s goal with the study was to characterize obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) phenotypes in Hispanics/Latinos and examine prevalent and incident stroke risk factors. The research was conducted as part of the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos (HCHS/SOL). 

 “Identifying OSA phenotypes can facilitate personalized care, better inform treatment decisions, and could lead to improved clinical outcomes,” Dr. Ramos said. “We derived and characterized OSA symptom phenotypes among middle-aged and older Hispanics/Latinos and tested their associations with prevalent and incident stroke risk factors.”  

 Sleep Apnea Evaluation  

 Evaluating sleep apnea, a common disorder in the Hispanic/Latino population, and its relation to cardiovascular disease can provide new avenues to minimize the excess cardiovascular risk in the demographic. Currently, the apnea-hypopnea index is the primary diagnostic metric for sleep apnea. However, the metric doesn’t consider the varying sleep apnea symptoms and outcomes leading to undiagnosed cases of sleep apnea. 

 For the study, subjective questions and objective sleep apnea measures were used to characterize different sleep apnea subtypes using novel and sophisticated statistical techniques. These characterizations each had different cardiovascular and sociodemographic profiles and varying risks for cardiovascular risk factors and disease.  

 The evaluation identified a three-class solution that clustered individuals into insomnia with sleep apnea, asymptomatic mild sleep apnea, and symptomatic sleep apnea. These findings will create further opportunities for better diagnosis and more tailored treatments for sleep apnea.  

 In addition, results from the study will help further understand and inform intervention studies with clinical trials in sleep apnea. As sleep apnea is better characterized, it will lead to a more accurate examination between sleep and essential health outcomes like neurocognitive decline.