Economic burden of undiagnosed sleep apnea in US is nearly $150 billion per year

August 8, 2016
Illustration of obstruction of ventilation. Credit: Habib M’henni / public domain

Today the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) released a new analysis, titled "Hidden health crisis costing America billions," that reveals the staggering cost of undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea. A companion report was also released , titled "In an age of constant activity, the solution to improving the nation's health may lie in helping it sleep better," which summarizes the results of an online survey completed by patients currently being treated for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Both reports were commissioned by the AASM and prepared by the global research and consulting firm Frost & Sullivan.

OSA is a chronic disease that is rising in prevalence in the U.S. Frost & Sullivan estimates that OSA afflicts 29.4 million American men and women, which represents 12 percent of the U.S. adult population. They also calculated that diagnosing and treating every patient in the U.S. who has would produce an annual economic savings of $100.1 billion.

Treating sleep apnea improves productivity and safety while reducing care utilization, notes AASM Immediate Past President Dr. Nathaniel Watson. His editorial about the report is published in the August issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

Frost & Sullivan calculated that the annual economic burden of undiagnosed sleep apnea among U.S. adults is approximately $149.6 billion. The estimated costs include $86.9 billion in lost productivity, $26.2 billion in motor vehicle accidents and $6.5 billion in workplace accidents. Untreated sleep apnea also increases the risk of costly health complications such as hypertension, heart disease, diabetes and depression. The report estimates that undiagnosed sleep apnea also costs $30 billion annually in increased health care utilization and medication costs related to these comorbid health risks.

"The high quality, patient-centered care provided by board-certified physicians can significantly reduce the health and economic burdens of sleep apnea," said AASM President Dr. Ronald Chervin.

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a sleep-related breathing disorder characterized by repetitive episodes of complete or partial upper airway obstruction occurring during sleep. Common warning signs for sleep apnea include snoring and gasping or choking during sleep, along with daytime sleepiness or fatigue. The major predisposing factor for sleep apnea is excess body weight. In some cases, weight loss can help improve or eliminate sleep apnea symptoms. One treatment option for sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy, which helps keep the airway open by providing a stream of air through a mask that is worn during sleep.

The companion report was based on a survey of 506 patients who are currently being treated for . Results show a variety of positive impacts on patient health and quality of life when patients are treated for their OSA, including better sleep, greater productivity, and a reported 40 percent decline in workplace absences. Approximately 78 percent of patients reported that sleep apnea treatment was a good investment.

"Patients often report that they feel like a new person after receiving treatment for sleep apnea," said Chervin. "Restoring and maintaining healthy sleep is essential for the achievement of optimal health. We encourage people to seek care from a board-certified sleep medicine physician if they experience any symptoms of a sleep disorder."

In order to prepare these reports, Frost & Sullivan, interviewed key opinion leaders with specialties in economics, sleep medicine, productivity, mental health and accidents. The Frost & Sullivan research team also reviewed more than 100 studies on the impact of sleep apnea and constructed detailed financial models leveraging collected research, results from a survey of 506 patients, and treatment fees pulled from public sources including the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) fee schedules.

Explore further: Study finds no link between sleep apnea and joint pain

More information: The reports are available for free download on the AASM website at www.aasmnet.org/sleep-apnea-economic-impact.aspx

Related Stories

Study finds no link between sleep apnea and joint pain

August 1, 2016
Consistent with previous reports, poor sleep quality was linked with joint pain in a recent Arthritis Care & Research study of the general population, but the study found no association between obstructive sleep apnea and ...

Researchers identify gestational sleep apnea, a diagnosis for pregnant women

July 27, 2016
Recent studies reveal that approximately one quarter of pregnant women may suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), the recurrent cessation or limitation of normal breathing during sleep. In addition to being the cause ...

Hard-to-treat hypertension may jeopardize sleep apnea patients' heart health

July 18, 2016
In a study of patients with hypertension, those with resistant hypertension—meaning that their blood pressure remained elevated despite concurrent use of three antihypertensive agents of different classes—had a higher ...

Prevalence of diagnosed sleep disorders has risen among US veterans

July 15, 2016
A new study found a six-fold increase in the age-adjusted prevalence of any sleep disorder diagnosis over an 11-year period among U.S. veterans. The largest increases were identified in patients with post-traumatic stress ...

Insomnia? Oversleeping? Both may increase your risk of stroke

August 3, 2016
There is growing evidence that sleep disorders like insomnia and sleep apnea are related to stroke risk and recovery from stroke, according to a recent literature review. The review is published in the August 3, 2016, online ...

CPAP therapy reduces symptoms of depression in adults with sleep apnea

September 22, 2015
A new study shows that depressive symptoms are extremely common in people who have obstructive sleep apnea, and these symptoms improve significantly when sleep apnea is treated with continuous positive airway pressure therapy.

Recommended for you

Anti-nausea drug could help treat sleep apnea

June 6, 2017
An old pharmaceutical product may be a new treatment for obstructive sleep apnea, according to new research presented today by University of Illinois at Chicago and Northwestern University scientists at the SLEEP 2017 annual ...

New disposable, wearable patch found to effectively detect sleep apnea

June 4, 2017
Results of a definitive clinical trial show that a new, disposable diagnostic patch effectively detects obstructive sleep apnea across all severity levels.

Childhood sleep apnoea is common but hard to diagnose

April 28, 2017
The cessation of breathing during sleep caused by enlarged tonsils is common in preschool-age children and can cause serious complications, but the methods normally used to diagnose the condition are subjective and unreliable. ...

Curbing sleep apnea might mean fewer night trips to bathroom

March 27, 2017
(HealthDay)—Millions of Americans battle bothersome nighttime conditions, such as sleep apnea or the need to get up frequently to urinate.

Untreated sleep apnea in children can harm brain cells tied to cognition and mood

March 17, 2017
A study comparing children between 7 and 11 years of age who have moderate or severe obstructive sleep apnea to children the same age who slept normally, found significant reductions of gray matter - brain cells involved ...

Dietary supplement derived from tree bark shows promise for treating obstructive sleep apnea

February 24, 2017
Obstructive sleep apnea, which causes people to briefly stop breathing while asleep, affects an estimated 5 percent of the population, not including the many more who don't even realize they suffer from the disorder.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.