(HealthDay)—From 1993 to 2010 there was an increase in the diagnosis of sleep apnea in U.S. ambulatory practice visits, according to a study published online Sept. 1 in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society.
Andrew M. Namen, M.D., from the Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C., and colleagues examined trends in the frequency of adult outpatient visits in the United States for sleep apnea. Data were included for 838,000 ambulatory practice visits from 1993 to 2010.
The researchers observed a 14.6-fold increase in the diagnosis of sleep apnea from 420,000 to 6.37 million per year (P = 0.0002). Overall, 33, 17, and 10 percent of patients were reported by primary care providers, pulmonologists, and otolaryngologists; reports of a diagnosis of sleep apnea by "other groups" increased during the study (P < 0.001). There was significant variation across regions of the United States in the per capita rate of sleep apnea diagnoses per 1,000 persons per year (P < 0.0001). Regions that had a higher rate of sleep apnea reporting were influenced by obesity and health insurance status (P < 0.001 and P < 0.005, respectively).
"A diagnosis of sleep apnea was identified much more frequently in 2010 than in 1993 by outpatient practice clinicians participating in national surveys during outpatient visits to hospital-based as well as non-hospital based practices in the United States," the authors write.
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