Snorers sought for age-related breath control study

The School of Sport and Exercise Science study will provide
valuable information on the potential causal role of the controlling
mechanism of human breathing on the development of sleep disorders in
the elderly population.

In some individuals, when the muscles relax during sleep, the
airway can become narrow and often collapse completely resulting in less
air reaching the lungs and a reduced amount of oxygen in the blood.
This can happen multiple times during sleep and is called obstructive
sleep apnoea. Obstructive sleep apnoea can result in high blood
pressure, it increases the risk of heart disease and it has possible
causal links for metabolic disorders including diabetes.

Obstructive sleep apnoea is common among the general population
(occurring in two to four per cent of individuals aged 30-50 years) but
is much more prevalent among older people, affecting almost half of
those aged 60 years or over. Previous research has shown that changes in
the way our breathing is controlled are linked to the progression of
this disorder. ‘The study’s aim is to investigate whether the high
prevalence of obstructive sleep apnoea in the elderly population is
partly due to changes in the control of breathing,’ explains research
co-ordinator Keith Pugh.

The researchers are looking for healthy non-smoking, snorers and
non-snorers aged between 60 and 75 years to visit the University of
Birmingham twice. During these visits participants will be exposed to
conditions that allow the team to investigate the sensitivity by which
their breathing is regulated. These results will be compared with those
of younger participants to highlight the contribution of ageing in
alterations of the way we breathe.

Volunteers will be paid reasonable travel expenses and will
receive information relating to sleep-related breathing disorders.

Inclusion criteria:

• Participants must be non-smokers, have a normal body weight and
must be free from any form of respiratory or cardiovascular disease with
the exception of mild high blood pressure.

• Participants must also be free of metabolic disorders (including
diabetes), and sleep disorders (including obstructive sleep apnoea).

Anyone wishing to participate should contact:

Mr Keith Pugh via [email protected] or 0121 414 8737. 

Dr George Balanos via [email protected] or 0121 415 8828.

Notes to Editors

For more information, please contact Jenni Ameghino, University of Birmingham, 0121 415 8134