Sleep Apnea

New Study: 37% of Adults in the Americas Have Sleep Apnea

Do you know someone who has sleep apnea? If you’re tempted to say “no,” a newly released study may surprise you. 

How many people have sleep apnea according to the latest sleep apnea statistics? In the Americas, a new study conservatively reports that 170 million people have sleep apnea. The United States, Brazil, and Colombia lead the way with nearly 60% of all cases worldwide.

Previous estimates had suggested that 100 million adults may be affected. But the latest sleep apnea statistics show a clear trend that healthcare professionals find alarming. Unfortunately, this number may not be completely accurate as researchers can’t count the cases that go unreported. They believe many more people are out there going undiagnosed and untreated.

“Given how common sleep apnea is, especially among people with other common diseases, doctors should screen their high-risk patients and help those who are diagnosed get onto life-changing treatment as soon as possible.” ResMed Chief Medical Officer Carlos M. Nunez, M.D

The potential amount of people who have undiagnosed and untreated sleep apnea is concerning as sleep apnea can lead to dangerous daytime drowsiness and many life-threatening health conditions. Statistics like this are alarming because untreated sleep apnea can be deadly as an office manager named Jennifer nearly found out.

No Time to Waste

At the young age of 46, Jennifer* was frequently feeling run down at work and as though she could never catch up on her sleep. She would consistently wake up tired and was forgetting things she shouldn’t forget—always considered level-headed, it was very out of character. And it was getting worse by the day.

It wasn’t until she had a stroke scare, that landed her in the hospital, she learned all of the symptoms she was experiencing—including the stroke—were likely linked to her sleep problems. Her doctor prescribed and scheduled a sleep study for her ASAP.

The study showed that she wasn’t just having trouble sleeping as she had thought. She had sleep apnea, and it was significantly impacting her health and lifestyle.

Luckily for Jennifer, her doctor was able to catch and diagnosis her sleep apnea. Unfortunately for many, symptoms can go undetected.

What To Do If You Think You Have Sleep Apnea

Finding out how many people have sleep apnea would give anyone reason to assess whether their conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, weight gain, or depression could be linked to their sleep problems.

If you think you might have sleep apnea, don’t delay in speaking with your doctor. But while you wait for your appointment, there are a few things you can do to help and to learn more about your potential risk for sleep apnea.

  1. Ask someone to listen to you sleep or record your sleep for at least 3 hours. During that time, you’ll be able to hear if you are snoring, or if there are any breathing disruptions during your sleep. Be sure to bring any recordings you gather to your doctors visit.
  2. Purchase a humidifier. You may be drying out your palette and throat, increasing the severity of the condition. By adding additional moisture to the air, you can soothe some of the physical side-effects.
  3. Find out if it runs in the family. Speak to a parent, aunt, siblings, or other family members to learn if they suffer from symptoms or have been formally-diagnosed. Research shows a 50% increased risk if an immediate family member has it. Share the journey to healthier breathing and more restful sleep with each other.
  4. Assess your diet and lifestyle.  Sleep apnea doesn’t discriminate—you can be diagnosed no matter your weight or lifestyle. However, having a BMI over 30 does increase your risk. If you need another reason to stick to that exercise plan or stop smoking, this may be it.
  5. Exercise your lungs. Deep breathing, cardio, yoga, and meditation can all strengthen your lung capacity, which may reduce the frequency of episodes at night.
  6. Take our quiz. Take our symptom checker quiz to find out if your symptoms and lifestyle put you at risk for sleep apnea. The more information you can gather, the easier it will be to take control of your health. 

Not sure who to talk to first? We recommend setting up an appointment with your primary care doctor to get the ball rolling!

CPAP Community: What are your thoughts on the new report? Did you think the number would be lower or higher?

*  This story is based on a combination of personal stories. Names and specific details were altered for privacy. 

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