A new study suggests that men who suffer from severe sleep apnoea, a common sleeping disorder, are twice as likely to die prematurely as those who do not have the condition.

Sleep apnoea is usually characterised by loud snorting with short pauses in breathing and is associated with hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Most sufferers are not aware that have the disorder.

The study, undertaken by researchers at Johns Hopkins University in the US and published by PLOS Medicine, used a sample group of adults aged 40 years or older.

They concluded that severe sleep-disordered breathing is associated with all-cause mortality, specifically that resulting from coronary artery disease, among this group.

They were unable to say whether the sleeping disorder actually leads to ill health or if it is a symptom of other problems.

While there are treatments for sleep apnoea, the scientists said that, “given the high prevalence of sleep-disordered breathing in the general population, additional research in the form of clinical trials should be undertaken to assess if treatment can reduce premature mortality associated with this.”

The researchers added, however, that people who suffer from mild sleep apnoea did not have a higher risk of premature death.

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