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A Look into Obstructive Sleep Apnea among Ethiopians

Asefa Mekonnen
Monika Gasiorek
Marc Key
Gregory Stimac


BACKGROUND: Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is prevalent throughout the world. However, there are currently limited data concerning the prevalence of OSA in populations that originate from developing countries; the prevalence of OSA is expected to rise in these countries. OSA is poorly characterized amongst Ethiopians, and our study is the first to describe clinical characteristics of OSA among Ethiopians.
METHODS: We conducted a retrospective study of primarily Ethiopian patients at an internal medicine clinic in Rockville, Maryland. All patients (n=24) were evaluated for daytime sleepiness using the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS) and received physical examinations and polysomnograms (PSG) by either portable monitoring (Itamar WatchPAT 200 device) or in-lab. Statistical analyses were performed in R.
RESULTS: Linear regression model of Body-Mass Index (BMI) and Apnea-Hypopnea Index (AHI) indicated that for every 1-unit increase in BMI, there was a 0.8657-unit increase in AHI (p<0.05). Pearson’s correlation coefficient indicateda positive linear relationship between BMI and AHI (0.47) (p<0.05). Adjusted linear regression model for AHI and oxygen saturation indicated that for every 1-unit increase of AHI, there was a 0.8452-unit decrease in nocturnal oxygen saturation (p<0.05). Pearson’s correlation coefficient did not demonstrate significance between AHI and oxygen desaturation (p=0.062). Patients received either continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) (n=15) or oral appliance therapy (n=3).
CONCLUSION: All patients who complied with therapy reported improved sleep quality, snoring resolution, and improved daytime alertness. Practitioners in developing countries should suspect OSA in the right clinical setting and offer diagnostic and therapeutic services when available.