Research collected by the National Institute of Health through their Jackson (Mississippi) Heart Study represents the sleep data of 825 African Americans with an average age of 63, and two-thirds of which were female. The data shows an increased incidence of sleep disorder related health problems such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease in the African American participants. Further, three out of four participants were also found to have obstructive sleep apnea, based on an AHI level above 5. Yet only 2.1% of these participants had received a sleep apnea diagnosis from a physician, prior to this study.

Researchers determined that the high rate of undiagnosed sleep disorders in African Americans makes them an at risk population. They recommend further studies into the high number of African Americans with sleep apnea, and recommend efforts to increase awareness and screenings for sleep disorders within these populations. Diagnosing and treating sleep disorders can help these patients improve their quality of life and reduce their likelihood for other negative health conditions.

Sources: American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine 2017;195:A2926 Undiagnosed Sleep Disorders in African Americans: The Jackson Heart Study