Sleep Apnea Risk May Be More Common Than Thought

National Sleep Foundation survey suggests 31 percent of men and 21 percent of women at risk

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 13 (HealthDay News) -- The risk for obstructive sleep apnea in American adults could be as high as 26 percent, a much higher incidence than has been previously estimated, according to a study in the September issue of Chest.

David M. Hiestand, M.D., of the University of Kentucky College of Medicine in Lexington, and colleagues analyzed data from the 2005 National Sleep Foundation's (NSF) sample poll of 1,506 U.S. adults. The data set included responses to questions about snoring, apnea, and daytime sleepiness. Body mass index was also calculated.

Twenty-six percent of respondents met criteria for a high risk of obstructive sleep apnea. These findings are striking because the well-known 1993 Wisconsin Sleep Cohort Study suggested only 4 percent of men and 2 percent of women met the criteria for obstructive sleep apnea. In the NSF study, obesity was correlated with a high risk (57 percent) for sleep apnea along with self-reported sleep problems and chronic disease.

"The 2005 NSF poll indicates that one in four Americans is at high risk for obstructive sleep apnea, with increasing risk up to the age of 65 years. Considering the serious adverse health and quality-of-life consequences of sleep-disordered breathing, efforts to expedite diagnosis and treatment are urgently needed," the authors concluded.

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