Sleep Disturbances and Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension in Men
Arina Bingeliene1, Trevor Jairam3, Arun Sundaram2, Mark Boulos1
1Department of Neurology, 2Department of Ophthalmology & Vision Sciences,, University of Toronto, 3Hurvitz Brain Sciences Research Program, Sunnybrook Research Institute, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, University of Toronto

Idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH) is characterized by increased intracranial pressure of unknown etiology. The consensus is that IIH predominantly affects obese women of childbearing age, with the male to female ratio ranging from 1:4 to 1:8 of IIH patients in the 14 to 60 age group. Males with IIH are reported to be four times more likely to be at high risk for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) compared to age and BMI matched controls.


Our research group investigated the relationship between sleep disturbances and the characteristics of IIH in males and females. We performed a review of 54 clinical charts and in-laboratory polysomnography test results; 27 of these were IIH patients (9 males and 18 females), and 27 were patients free of neurological disease who served as a control group matched for age, sex and BMI.


Our preliminary results did not reveal any significant differences between the male and female IIH patients in terms of age and BMI. However, there was a trend for male IIH patients to have significantly more severe OSA compared to female IIH patients (mean respiratory disturbance index (RDI) 31.7 vs. 9.0 events/hr, p=0.07; mean apnea length 19.1 vs. 12.6 seconds, p<0.05; mean minimum oxygen saturation 84.8% vs. 91.1%, p=0.14). We plan to report on a larger sample of male IIH patients at the time of the conference, as well as ascertain gender differences in terms of whether the burden of IIH symptoms correlates with OSA severity.


There appears to be a significant sex difference in terms of OSA severity among male and female IIH patients. Given the notable sex differences and the paucity of outcome data in males, it is unknown as to what extent, if any, management strategies for IIH may need to differ in males and females.