African ethnicity is associated with a higher prevalence of diabetes in obstructive sleep apnea patients: results of a retrospective analysis

  • Fabio AndreozziEmail author
  • Chloé Van Overstraeten
  • Sidali Ben Youssef
  • Ionela Bold
  • Sarah Carlier
  • Alexia Gruwez
  • Stéphanie André
  • Anne-Violette Bruyneel
  • Marie Bruyneel
Sleep Breathing Physiology and Disorders • Original Article



Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) syndrome is a well-recognized independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease and its prevalence is increasing. OSA symptomology, polysomnographic features, and comorbidities are heterogeneous among patients. Ethnicity is thought to influence OSA phenotypes, but extensive knowledge of OSA ethnic patterns is lacking. The primary aim of the present study was to compare comorbidities in Caucasian and African OSA. Secondary aims were to observe OSA symptomatology, polysomnographic characteristics, and CPAP adherence in these two ethnic groups.


In this retrospective study, 1717 patients suffering from moderate/severe OSA were included between 2013 and 2017. Data on demographics, symptomatology, comorbidities, polysomnographic characteristics, and CPAP adherence were collected. Data were analyzed to identify potential differences between Caucasians and Africans.


Despite healthier lifestyles and lower BMI, a higher prevalence of diabetes but less cardiac comorbidities and dyslipidemia was observed in the African population. Younger African patients (< 56 years) suffered more from cognitive impairment than Caucasians and both younger and older Africans complained more of nighttime choking than Caucasians. In analysis of polysomnographic data, Africans had higher apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) in REM sleep, lower supine AHI, lower desaturation time, and lower periodic leg movements index.


Compared with Caucasians, African OSA showed a particular comorbidity profile. There are younger patients who exhibit more diabetes but less cardiac comorbidities than the Caucasians. African diabetics should be more promptly referred for OSA testing. Moreover, as they suffer more often from choking and cognitive impairment, OSA treatment could positively impact their quality of life.


Obstructive apnea syndrome Ethnicity Diabetes African 



The authors would like to acknowledge the contribution of a medical writer, Sandy Field, PhD, for the editing of this manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fabio Andreozzi
    • 1
    Email author
  • Chloé Van Overstraeten
    • 1
  • Sidali Ben Youssef
    • 1
  • Ionela Bold
    • 1
  • Sarah Carlier
    • 1
  • Alexia Gruwez
    • 1
  • Stéphanie André
    • 2
  • Anne-Violette Bruyneel
    • 3
  • Marie Bruyneel
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Respiratory MedicineSaint-Pierre University Hospital, Université Libre de BruxellesBrusselsBelgium
  2. 2.Department of Respiratory MedicineBrugmann University Hospital, Université Libre de BruxellesBrusselsBelgium
  3. 3.KiCarre, Research DepartmentLentillyFrance

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