Do genetics play a factor in sleep apnea?

This question was asked in Irvine, California on 02/20/2013.
Do genetics play a factor in sleep apnea? How big a factor does genetics play? My father has sleep apnea and I am afraid that I may have a predisposition to developing it as well.

Doctors Answers (7)

Jana P. Kaimal, MD, FCCP
Answered on: 4/5/2013 7

Scientists have just really begun to study this issue. However, research from the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research say it is likely that patients who suffer from sleep apnea may have a genetic disposition to the disorder to any offspring. It is not uncommon for members from the same family to suffer from some form of sleep apnea.

Daron Scherr, MD, DABSM
Answered on: 4/5/2013 1

Sleep apnea is a structural issue. The structure of your airway is going to be similar to your father's. Therefore, you are going to be at increased risk of obstructive sleep apnea.

We perform home sleep studies at no charge interpreted by a board-certified sleep specialist.

J. Douglas Hudson, MD, DABSM
Answered on: 2/28/2013

Genetics play a major role in sleep apnea. 90% or more of patients who snore or have sleep apnea have a family history of the same. The reason for this is that the anatomy of the throat, specifically the hypopharynx, is narrowed and when the tongue and soft palate collapse while sleeping it does not take much to close the passageway for air to enter the lungs.

SomnoDiagnostics, Inc.
Answered on: 2/22/2013

Yes. Although scientists are not certain, it appears that sleep apnea is genetic, as it is common for members of the same family to suffer from sleep apnea. We see a large number of people that are from the same family. In some cases though, eating habits, sleep hygiene and body build are factors. If you are noticing symptoms of sleep apnea or feel that you are at risk, it would be reasonable for you to consult a Board Certified Sleep Specialist. We would be happy to schedule an appointment with Dr. Gibson if you decide to explore this. We would be happy to answer any questions for you.

Timothy J. Delcambre, DDS, MHA
Answered on: 2/21/2013

Genetics may play a factor to some degree. Being overweight may be a more defining factor as to the presence of sleep apnea. As a dentist, my role in treating sleep apnea is in the proper fabrication of an oral appliance. This genetics question should be asked of a sleep physician.

Courtney Whitney, DO
Answered on: 2/21/2013

Sleep apnea does run in families because you inherit your parents' airway anatomy just like everything else. Keep an eye on signs and symptoms because yes, you are at a high predisposition for sleep apnea if a parent has it.

Richard J. Schumann Jr., MD
Answered on: 2/21/2013

This is a familial component to some sleep disorders with a higher incidence of sleep apnea if 1 or more parents are affected.