Thesis Title

Body Mass Index and Severity of Sleep Apnea


Matt Petit

Date of Graduation

Fall 2008


Master of Science in Nursing



Committee Chair

Rose Utley


Sleep apnea is a medical condition experienced by persons of various ethnicities and ages. Sleep apnea is the temporary cessation or inability to breathe during sleep. People with sleep apnea often report not having a restful night sleep and experience fatigue during the day. This is due to the person waking up briefly during the night due to periods of apnea. Obesity, male gender, increasing age, and certain craniofacial characteristics are risks for developing sleep apnea. The Theory of Unpleasant Symptoms served as the framework for this study. Many studies have been performed that analyze sleep apnea in those who are obese. The purpose of this study was to determine the severity of sleep apnea experienced in adults with a normal body mass index, which was defined as a value of 18.5 to 24.9. A sample size of 218 subjects was used. An analysis seeking common factors was performed within this population. A retrospective design was used to sample medical charts from St. John's Sleep Apnea Clinic (Springfield, MO). Data were analyzed using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) software. It was discovered that those with a normal body mass index experienced all severity levels of sleep apnea and severity was correlated with advancing age and the male gender. In addition, no correlation was found between sleep apnea severity and body mass index values, Epworth Sleepiness Scale values, depression, hypertension, diabetes, or arthritis in subjects with a normal body mass index. The implications of this study may guide future research, increase public and practitioner awareness of sleep apnea, and potentially impact health policy.


apnea, apnea-hypoxia index, body mass index, hypopnea, polysomnogram, sleep apnea

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