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13 Devastating Sleep Apnea Statistics for 2019

By Blog

Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition that involves the partial or complete collapse of the upper airway when sleeping. This happens when the muscles controlling the soft palate and tongue relax. The condition has drawn more attention lately as it has been linked to some high-profile deaths, but also because it is linked to chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and more.

In this article, we’re going to take a look at a range of sleep apnea statistics. We will discuss its prevalence, impact, causes, what percentage of the population suffers from sleep apnea, etc.

The Key Sleep Apnea Statistics in 2019

  • One in 12 people in the US suffers from obstructive sleep apnea
  • Nearly 1 billion people across the world have sleep apnea
  • Undiagnosed sleep apnea accounts for 80% of all cases
  • 60% of people with heart failure also have this condition
  • 77% of people with the condition also suffer from obesity
  • Men are two to three times more likely to be diagnosed with sleep apnea
  • Only 8% of the senior population has been tested for this illness
  • Up to 10% of children are affected by sleep apnea.

1. One in 12 people in the US suffers from obstructive sleep apnea.

How many people have sleep apnea in the US? The current estimations say that around 22 million people in the US suffer from moderate to severe sleep apnea. If you were wondering how common is sleep apnea, it is 6.7% of the total US population.

Moderate sleep apnea symptoms include loud snoring, excessive sleepiness through the day, headaches in the morning, mood swings, difficulty concentrating, lack of energy, waking up in the night gasping or choking, and more. Symptoms of severe sleep apnea include all of those but at a more intensive level.

2. Nearly 1 billion people across the world have sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea statistics worldwide uncover the scale of the problem to an even greater degree. According to a metastudy across multiple countries, it is estimated that this condition affects over 936 million people.

3. Undiagnosed sleep apnea accounts for 80% of all cases.

Out of 22 million people in the US that are estimated to suffer from sleep apnea, 80% of those cases go untreated. This means that 17.6 million people may be living with the illness without diagnosis or treatment.

Other studies have shown that the economic burden of undiagnosed sleep apnea in the United States alone is nearly $150 billion a year. This is due to a range of factors, such as the fact that undiagnosed and untreated sleep apnea can lead to a range of conditions that cost more money to treat it.

4. 60% of people with heart failure also have sleep apnea.

One of the most pressing questions regarding the increasing prevalence of sleep apnea in the United States is, “can sleep apnea kill you?” The answer is not simple. One cannot die from the partial or complete closure of the airway, but it can cause further complications that could lead to death.

One study showed that sleep apnea could actually increase the chance of heart attack or death by up to 30% over 4-5 years.

5. 77% of people with sleep apnea also suffer from obesity.

Sleep apnea is comorbid with a significant range of dangerous, even life-threatening conditions. Comorbidity means that two conditions (or more) have a significant chance of being experienced together. For instance, studies have shown that over three-quarters of people living with sleep apnea fit the medical definition of obesity.

Around 83% of people with sleep apnea have drug-resistant hypertension, 76% congestive heart failure, 59% pacemakers, and 48% have diabetes. Some conditions are comorbid with sleep apnea, but only in men. For instance, 30% of men with sleep apnea also suffer from coronary artery disease.

This brings us on to the topic of sleep apnea demographics.

6. Men are two to three times more likely to be diagnosed with sleep apnea.

Sleep-disordered breathing conditions affect 23.4% of women, but it affects nearly half of all men (49.7%). As such, between 66-75% of people who get a sleep apnea diagnosis are men.

Some believe that women are less likely to be diagnosed with sleep apnea because they more often display symptoms not specific to the condition, such as insomnia, depression, or restless leg syndrome. As such, insomnia statistics suggest they may be misdiagnosed more often than men.

Sleep Apnea Statistics-pillow

7. 17% of men aged 50-70 suffer from sleep apnea.

The risk of getting the illness increases for all people as we age, but who is most likely to suffer from sleep apnea? According to the stats, nearly one in five men aged 50-70 suffer from this condition, putting them at the top of the risky demographic groups. Meanwhile, only 9% of women of the same age range suffer from this disorder.

8. Up to 90% of severely obese people suffer from sleep apnea.

Statistics can be used to discover some of the sleep apnea causes. Multiple tests have shown that the prevalence of sleep apnea is between 40-90% in people with morbid obesity.

Overall, obesity is considered the most common cause of sleep apnea. Other causes include chronic sinusitis, recent weight gain, large tonsils, smoking, and more.

9. Only 8% of the senior population has been tested for sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea affects nearly one-fifth of all men older than 65. However, less than one-tenth of all adults over this age are tested for this disorder. As mentioned in the undiagnosed sleep apnea statistics above, we have a significant problem with how the sleep apnea test is performed and how widely it is carried out, leading to many people suffering from the condition without being aware.

Tests can conclusively diagnose the illness, such as the nocturnal polysomnography, for example. However, in many cases, it is misdiagnosed based on symptoms that are not specific to sleep disorders. Sleep deprivation statistics indicate that obstructive sleep apnea may also be diagnosed by an otorhinolaryngologist who can discover blockages in the nose and throat that may cause the condition.

10. Surgical procedures can have a success rate as high as 60%.

When it comes to sleep apnea treatment, CPAP machines are largely considered the most effective and are also the most popular method. However, there is a range of surgical procedures that may be able to address the problem, as well.

For instance, a midline glossectomy and base of tongue reduction have success rates of 60% or higher. This involves effectively removing a portion of the back of the tongue to expand the airway, making it easier to breathe at night.

CPAP machines do not yet have enough tests to suggest their success rates, but there is plenty of clinical evidence that they do reduce the symptoms of sleep apnea and are an effective method of treatment.

11. Up to 10% of children may be affected by sleep apnea.

The latest studies suggest that between 1-10% of all children are affected by obstructive sleep apnea. However, sleep apnea symptoms in kids, such as excessive snoring, can have a prevalence of up to 12%.

The majority of children who experience the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea are likely to outgrow them. However, there are concerns that children with these symptoms can develop enuresis, attention-deficit disorder, behavior problems, cardiopulmonary disease, and more.

With the increasing rate of obesity amongst children, obstructive sleep apnea has become a growing concern.

12. One in five people with sleep apnea also suffers from depression.

As mentioned earlier, sleep apnea is comorbid with a wide range of health conditions, including mental health issues. Around 21.8% of all people with sleep apnea suffer from depression, while 16.7% suffer from anxiety, 11.9% have PTSD, 5.1% suffer from schizophrenia and psychosis, and 3.3% have bipolar disorders.

To put this into context, 6.7% of people in the US suffer from depression, 18% from an anxiety disorder, 3.5% from PTSD, 1.2% have schizophrenia, and 2.6% have bipolar disorder.

13. People with sleep apnea are up to 15 times as likely to get involved in a traffic accident.

Those with moderate to severe sleep apnea have up to 15-fold chance of getting into a traffic accident as those without it. Furthermore, it’s estimated that treating all people in the US suffering from sleep apnea would result in saving over $11 billion in accident costs. This disorder is considered to have a significant impact on the rate of drowsy drivers on the road.

Bottom Line

Obviously, sleep apnea has a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of the population, both physically and mentally. In fact, since so many people are not treated or even tested for this condition, it might have a much greater impact than we believe.

Hopefully, the sleep apnea stats discussed in this article have clarified the scope of the issue, as well as shed some light on how the illness affects people across demographics, its relationship with other health issues, and how much is spent on undiagnosed sleep apnea.

As further research links it with the increasing rate of obesity, it’s easy to see that the stats are likely to change over time, hopefully for the best.


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