Sleep Apnea Costs U.S. Billions Of Dollars Per Year

Sleep Apnea Costs U.S. Billions Of Dollars Per Year

Chronic snoring is certainly a nuisance to those living with sleep apnea (and perhaps even more so, their partners), and it can also take a huge financial toll. A new report released by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) today puts a dollar amount on what sleep apnea actually costs the U.S. — and the results are staggering.

An estimated 29.4 million American adults suffer from sleep apnea, or about 12 percent of the U.S. population, the authors say.

The condition is characterized by repetitive episodes of disrupted breathing from a complete or partial upper airway obstruction during sleep. It results in snoring or gasping or choking during sleep, often many times each night, which can lead to daytime sleepiness and fatigue.

These side effects have costly real-life consequences. According to the study, the annual economic burden of undiagnosed sleep apnea among U.S. adults is approximately $149.6 billion. This includes almost $87 billion in lost productivity, $26 billion in car crashes, and $6.5 billion in workplace accidents.

Untreated obstructive sleep apnea can also contribute to the risk of other serious health problems, including hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, and depression. As such, the authors estimate that undiagnosed sleep apnea leads to $30 billion a year in increased health care and medication costs related to these co-occurring health risks.

According to the report, if every patient in the U.S. who has sleep apnea were diagnosed and treated, it would result in an annual economic savings of just over $100 billion.

“The high quality, patient-centered care provided by board-certified sleep medicine physicians can significantly reduce the health and economic burdens of sleep apnea,” AASM president Dr. Ronald Chervin said in a statement.

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