What is sleep apnea, anyway?

Sleep Apnea is a condition where a patient has pauses in their breathing during sleep.  It is often associated with severe snoring and daytime fatigue.  Sleep Apnea can lead to  high blood pressure, heart and nervous system problems, and traffic accidents.

The diagnosis of Sleep Apnea has been rising rapidly in the United States over the last 20 years.  This is felt to be due to the obesity epidemic (although not all patients with sleep apnea are obese) and due to our aging population.

In the United States, 28 million patients have been diagnosed with sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is usually treated with a CPAP machine that a patient wears at night, but 50% of patients stop using the machine after about 3 months as it can be uncomfortable and difficult to use.

This year, spending on diagnosis and treatment of Sleep Apnea is expected to be $17 Billion dollars in the United States, which is double the amount spent in 2010.

A test to diagnose sleep apnea performed in a clinic cost about $2000 per night.  If the test is performed at home, the cost is $300.

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