Obstructive Sleep Apnea: Hidden Health Crisis in America

recent study by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) revealed obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) could be a hidden health crisis costing America billions.

The study showed there are approximately 30 million Americans suffering from obstructive sleep apnea; yet only 6 million people are officially diagnosed. This means that 80 percent of people with OSA are undiagnosed.

Additionally, the AASM revealed that due to workplace accidents, automobile accidents, comorbid diseases and loss in productivity, the United States is losing a combined $149.6 billion because of OSA.

Michael Howell, M.D., sleep expert and associate professor in the Department of Neurology at the University of Minnesota explained, “This is a critically important study that communicates to decision makers on the costs of sleep problems.”

Howell states that proper treatment of sleep disorders can lead to living happier, being more alert, and performing better at work. Additionally, addressing sleep problems decreases health risks such as heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, obesity, and malignancy.

Other sleep disorders, such as insomnia and restless leg syndrome should also be addressed, says Howell. Treatment of these disorders can have significant mental, physical, and economic benefits.