Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common medical condition with serious adverse consequences including car accidents, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease. There are few studies assessing the risk of OSA in the general population.
The National Sleep Foundation’s (NSF) 2005 Sleep in America Poll included the Berlin Questionnaire, a previously validated instrument for estimating risk of OSA. The Berlin Questionnaire has three components, and those scoring high on at least two sections are considered at risk for OSA. The 2005 NSF poll surveyed 1506 adults aged 18 and over via telephone. This data was analyzed for the characteristics of respondents identified as being at risk for OSA.
Overall, 26% of adults were found to be at risk for OSA, including 31% of males and 21% of females. The risk of OSA increased with age to age 65: age 18-29 - 19%, 30-49 - 25%, and 50-64 - 33%. Only 21% of individuals 65 and over were at risk. 57% of obese individuals were at risk. Those at risk for OSA were more likely to report sleep problems (44% vs. 9%). Those respondents reporting an impact of sleep on quality of life were at increased risk for OSA (41 vs 11 %). The presence of a chronic medical increased the likelihood of OSA (35% vs. 11%).
The NSF 2005 poll indicates a strikingly high risk of OSA in the U.S. population. Risk is higher in men and higher in the obese. Risk as defined by the Berlin Questionnaire increases with age up to age 65. Individuals at risk for OSA are more likely to have a sleep problem and to believe this problem impacts quality of life. Finally, having other chronic medical problems is associated with increased risk of OSA.
The prevalence of risk for OSA in the population is significant. Further emphasis on screening and evaluation is warranted.
David Hiestand, None.