Simou E, Britton J, Leonardi-Bee J. Alcohol and the risk of sleep apnoea: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Sleep Med. 2018 Feb;42:38-46. doi: 10.1016/j.sleep.2017.12.005.

OBJECTIVE: A systematic review and meta-analysis of the association between alcohol consumption and risk of sleep apnoea in adults.

METHODS: We searched Medline, EMBASE and Web of Science databases from 1985 to 2015 for comparative epidemiological studies assessing the relation between alcohol consumption and sleep apnoea. Two authors independently screened and extracted data. Random effects meta-analysis was used to estimate pooled effect sizes with 95% confidence intervals (CI). Heterogeneity was quantified using I2 and explored using subgroup analyses based on study exposure and outcome measures, quality, design, adjustment for confounders and geographical location. Publication bias was assessed using a funnel plot and Egger's test.

RESULTS: We identified 21 studies from which estimates of relative risk could be obtained. Meta-analysis of these estimates demonstrated that higher levels of alcohol consumption increased the risk of sleep apnoea by 25% (RR 1.25, 95%CI 1.13-1.38, I2 = 82%, p < 0.0001). This estimate's differences were robust in alcohol consumption and sleep apnoea definitions, study design, and quality but was greater in Low and Middle Income Country locations. We detected evidence of publication bias (p = 0.001). A further eight included studies reported average alcohol consumption in people with and without sleep apnoea. Meta-analysis revealed that mean alcohol intake was two units/week higher in those with sleep apnoea, but this difference was not statistically significant (p = 0.41).

CONCLUSION: These findings suggest that alcohol consumption is associated with a higher risk of sleep apnoea, further supporting evidence that reducing alcohol intake is of potential therapeutic and preventive value in this condition.

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