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.

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. Accessed September 17, 2020.

Greenstone M, Hack M. Obstructive sleep apnoea. BMJ. 2014 Jun 17;348:g3745.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/condition/obstructive-sleep-apnea-osa-in-adults. Accessed September 16, 2020.

Sleep apnea. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sleepapnea. Accessed September 16, 2020.

Sleep apnea information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Sleep-Apnea-Information-Page. Accessed September 16, 2020.

Snoring, sleeping disorders, and sleep apnea. ENThealth—American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery website. Available at: http://www.entnet.org/content/snoring-and-sleep-apnea. Accessed September 17, 2020.

What is sleep apnea? American Sleep Apnea Association website. Available at: https://www.sleepapnea.org/learn/sleep-apnea. Accessed September 16, 2020.

Last reviewed March 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Kari Kassir, MD  Last Updated: 4/7/2021