Women and Sleep Apnea: CPAP Masks for Women

Summary: Until recently, Obstructive Sleep Apnea was considered a male dominated disease.  In general, older males are twice as likely as females to develop Sleep Apnea.  Typical male attributes associated with aging such as excess weight, neck circumference, high blood pressure, and diabetes which contribute to high incidents of Sleep Apnea are now becoming common among women.

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In fact, approximately 7 million women have been diagnosed with Sleep Apnea and women after menopause are three times more likely to suffer from it.  Women who snore are about twice as likely to have high blood pressure and have been linked to a higher risk of depression. Women who snore regularly are 33 percent more likely to suffer from stroke and heart disease than women who don’t snore.  Moreover, Obstructive Sleep Apnea is more likely to go undiagnosed in women than in men.

Obviously, if there have been any obvious signs or symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea, testing is of critical importance.  Because snoring also affects partners, it is important to discuss the subject with a significant other in order to help identify possible symptoms.  The benefits of treating Sleep Apnea are dramatic and contribute to higher quality of life.

Women and CPAP Masks

With the occurrence of Sleep Apnea among women rising, more information and equipment is now available on the subject.  Manufacturers have begun to take notice of the rise and have been designing masks specific to women.  Since the CPAP mask is the single most personal aspect of CPAP equipment, it makes sense that a CPAP mask be designed specifically for a woman’s features and likes.

Resmed, a leading CPAP equipment manufacturer, has taken a big step forward in the women Sleep Apnea market by offering a few new CPAP mask choices; The Swift™ FX for Her and the Swift™ LT for Her.  Each of these products offers a contemporary design with a woman in mind.  Fisher and Paykel HealthCare have also offered two CPAP nasal masks geared toward woman; FlexiFit™ 406 Petite and Zest™ Nasal CPAP Masks.

The Swift™ LT for Her was the initial CPAP mask designed specifically for woman.  Resmed took the highly successful Swift LT and tweaked it with personalized features for women’s unique preferences.  Some of the more important features for women include nasal pillow sizes including extra small, small and medium, adjustable backstrap that can be worn over or under the hair to accommodate a wide range of hairstyles and headgear stability arms with soft wraps that are expandable to accommodate various facial widths, including narrow or wider faces, to minimize facial contact or pressure marks.  The look was also softened with a more feminine print and light blue headgear design.

The Swift™ FX for Her has drawn on the strengths of the Swift LT for Her.  The Swift FX for Her is lighter, softer and even more streamlined.  Resmed has mounted a 360° rotating elbow for flexibility in tube positions and additional buckle notches that allow for customized sizing for women’s fitting needs.  Some design features specific to women’s needs include a low-profile backstrap with Velcro fasteners available in small sizes and in feminine pink or light blue and gray.  Soft wraps enhance comfort at the cheeks and are also available in gray and pink to coordinate with backstrap.  Finally, to better fit female users, pillow sizes come packaged with extra small, small and medium.

Fisher and Paykel have also entered into the growing female market with FlexiFit™ 406 and Zest™ CPAP nasal mask.  Both CPAP nasal masks offer solutions specifically designed to fit finer featured faces. The Petite design is small, light and easy to use. The Stretchgear™ Headgear provides even greater comfort and the maintenance-free bias diffuser ensures a quieter operation.  The Zest™ offers a compact, quiet, and effortless to fit and use solution.  The innovative design of the Zest™ Nasal Mask combines easy-clip silicone seal, Flexifoam™ Cusion technology and advanced air diffuser for ease of use, comfort and quietness.  The Zest™, which comes in petite, is a good solution for the small facial features of female CPAP users.

The Final Word

It is apparent that woman’s health issues are becoming prominent enough for major manufacturer’s to focus on products geared specifically for female users.  CPAP supplies and equipment are no different.  As shown, both Resmed and Fisher and Paykel have taken steps to help alleviate the problems associated with CPAP masks for women.  More comfort, smaller sizes and feminine colors are all aspects both Resmed and Fisher and Paykel have thought about when designing female specific CPAP masks.  As more are diagnosed and the market continues to expand, the number of CPAP masks for women will also increase and become more than a niche product.