Eating habit of adding salt to foods and incident sleep apnea: a prospective cohort study

Respir Res. 2023 Jan 7;24(1):5. doi: 10.1186/s12931-022-02300-6.


BACKGROUND: Previous studies have revealed that sodium-restricted diet intervention significantly decreased apnea frequency among patients with sleep apnea. However, the longitudinal association between the habit of adding salt to foods and sleep apnea in general populations is uncertain.

METHODS: The UK Biobank cohort study includes more than 500,000 participants aged 40 to 69 across the United Kingdom from 2006 to 2010. The frequency of adding salt to foods was collected through a touch screen questionnaire. Incident sleep apnea was ascertained by hospital inpatient records, death registries, primary care, and self-reported diagnosis. The association between the habit of adding salt to foods and incident sleep apnea was estimated using Cox proportional hazard regression models.

RESULTS: Among the 488,196 participants (mean age 56.5 years; 55.0% female) in this study. During a median follow-up of 12.3 years, 6394 sleep apnea events occurred. Compared to participants who never/rarely added salt to foods, those who sometimes, usually, and always added salt to foods had an 11% (hazard ratio [HR] 1.11, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.04 to 1.17), 15% (HR 1.15, 95% CI: 1.07 to 1.24), and 24% (HR 1.24, 95% CI: 1.12 to 1.37) higher risk for incident sleep apnea, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS: In this large prospective study, the habit of adding salt to foods was associated with a higher risk of incident sleep apnea. The findings support the benefits of a salt reduction program in preventing sleep apnea.

PMID:36611201 | DOI:10.1186/s12931-022-02300-6

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