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Health Information Center

Risk Factors for Sleep Apnea

  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:

Condition InDepth

Risk Factors for Sleep Apnea

A risk factor is something that raises the chances of getting a health problem. A person can get sleep apnea with or without the ones listed below. The chances of getting it are greater in people who have many risk factors.

This problem is more common in men. It is also more common in people who have other family members with it. Other things that may raise the risk are:

Health Problems

These health problems may raise the risk of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA):

These health problems may raise the risk of central sleep apnea:

  • Heart disorders, such as heart failure and rhythm problems
  • Stroke
  • Kidney failure
  • Brain tumors


People who smoke or are exposed to smoke are at higher risk of OSA.


People who drink alcohol have a higher risk of OSA.


  • Central sleep apnea. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/central-sleep-apnea.
  • Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/obstructive-sleep-apnea-osa-in-adults.
  • Sleep apnea. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/sleep-apnea.
  • Sleep apnea. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/health-information/disorders/sleep-apnea.
  • Snoring, sleeping disorders, and sleep apnea. ENThealth—American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery website. Available at: https://www.enthealth.org/conditions/snoring-sleeping-disorders-and-sleep-apnea.
  • What is sleep apnea? American Sleep Apnea Association website. Available at: https://www.sleepapnea.org/what-is-sleep-apnea.


  • James P. Cornell, MD
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.