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Who gets OSA and why worry?

February 2013

Sleep apnea affects an estimated 18 million Americans – that’s about one in 15. According to the National Commission on Sleep Disorders Research, approximately 38,000 deaths occur each year related to cardiovascular problems that are connected to sleep apnea. These problems include high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, and stroke. Obesity, which contributes to OSA , affects more than 35
percent of adults and 17 percent of children in the United States, and the number of patients with OSA coming to hospitals is increasing as waistlines expand and the population ages.

Obstructive sleep apnea develops more frequently among people who sleep on their back, are age 50 or over, are overweight, and are male, but OSA is seen in both sexes and in patients of all ages and body types. Researchers believe that in some cases the origin of OSA can be neurological, meaning it might be caused by improper or inadequate signaling from the brain. People that have genetically narrow airways are also more prone to OSA.

Whatever its cause, if left untreated OSA can have very serious consequences. In many cases, it leads to debilitating daytime exhaustion, headaches, depression and an overall sense of ill health. Over time and without treatment, OSA can contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease, strokes and other life-threatening and life-shortening conditions.


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