Sleep Apnoea Articles

More Than 936 Million Have Obstructive Sleep Apnoea Worldwide

If you have obstructive sleep apnoea, you’re definitely not alone. According to the latest scientific research1, more than 936 million people around the world are affected.

This remarkable figure, which was published in the world’s leading respiratory health journal, is nearly 10 times greater than the World Health Organisation’s 2007 estimate of over 100 million. It’s led to new calls for physicians to step up their efforts to screen, diagnose and prescribe treatment for this manageable disorder.

More than 85 percent of [obstructive] sleep apnoea patients are undiagnosed,” explains Carlos M. Nunez, M.D., a study co-author and ResMed’s chief medical officer. “This raises their risk of workplace and road accidents, and can contribute to other significant health problems, such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, or even poor glucose control for diabetic patients. We know the risks and now we know the size of the problem. Addressing it starts with screening patients we know to be high-risk.”

Download infographic

Why is obstructive sleep apnoea mostly undiagnosed?

With over 85% of obstructive sleep apnoea cases currently undiagnosed, there are millions of people who don’t know they’re affected. They’ll repeatedly stop breathing for 10 seconds or more throughout the night, jerking awake to avoid suffocation before the cycle starts again. The disruptive cycle causes chronic sleep deprivation but most people don’t remember waking up. Instead, they assume they’re tired because they’re stressed or getting older. Or they end up being misdiagnosed with insomnia, migraines, chronic fatigue or other conditions.

Who is at risk for obstructive sleep apnoea?

Obstructive sleep apnoea can affect anyone, including children. Snoring is the number one indicator of sleep apnoea in men and women, though not everyone who snores has it… and not everyone who has it snores.

Other common risk factors include: being overweight, being older than 40 and having a large neck circumference, a family history of sleep apnoea and various other physical characteristics, like nasal polyps. Smoking, drinking alcohol and taking certain sedative medicines increases the risk. More than half of all people with obesity, heart failure, stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA), atrial fibrillation or type 2 diabetes have sleep apnoea, according to leading research2. And it’s worth noting that women account for 40 percent of newly diagnosed sleep apnoea patients3.

How can I tell if I’m affected?

Common signs of obstructive sleep apnoea include snoring and gasping or choking during sleep, sleepiness, forgetfulness, poor concentration and lack of energy during the day, frequent urination at night, sexual dysfunction, morning headaches, night sweats, weight gain and a depressed mood.

The bottom line is: If you’re constantly tired or have other conditions linked to sleep apnoea, it never hurts to ask your doctor about it,” says Nunez. “Don’t settle for being tired all the time. You may improve your sleep, your mood, your relationships at work and home, your health, perhaps even other medical conditions you’re managing. But first, you have to find out.”

Take our quick quiz* to find out if you’re at risk and learn about next steps.

* Please note that the score you receive from our quiz is not a diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnoea; if your score shows you are “at risk” or you are suffering from excessive tiredness or any other symptoms that give you cause for concern, you should always see your GP.

References

1 Benjafield et al. Estimation of the global prevalence and burden of obstructive sleep apnoea: a literature-based analysis. Lancet Respiratory Medicine 2019. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2213-2600(19)30198-5
2 Gami AS et al. Circulation 2004, O’Keefe and Patterson, Obes Surgery 2004, Logan et al. J. Hypertension 2001, O’Keeffe T and Patterson EJ. Obes Surg 2004, Einhorn D et al. Endocr Pract 2007, Bassetti C and Aldrich M. Sleep 1999
3 Medicare 5% sample & OptumInsight medical claims data 2012

This blog post contains general information about medical conditions and treatments. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The information is not advice, and should not be treated as such. You must not rely on the information on this website as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.

If you have any specific questions about any medical matter, you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider. If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition, you should seek immediate medical attention. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website. The views expressed on this blog and website have no relation to those of any academic, hospital, practice, or other institution with which the authors are affiliated and do not directly reflect the views of ResMed or any of its subsidiaries or affiliates.