All you need to know about sleep apnoea | ResMed

All about obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA)

A man lying on his back in bed, snoring

If you have obstructive sleep apnoea, you’re definitely not alone.

According to the latest scientific research1, more than 936 million people around the world are affected.

This remarkable figure, published in the world’s leading respiratory health journal, is nearly 10 times greater than the World Health Organization’s 2007 estimate of more than 100 million.

"More than 80% of sleep apnoea patients are undiagnosed"

explains Carlos M Nunez, MD, a study co-author and ResMed’s Chief Medical Officer.

“This raises their risk of workplace and road accidents, and can contribute to other significant health problems, such as hypertension (high blood pressure), cardiovascular disease, or even poor glucose control for diabetic patients. We know the risks and now we know the size of the problem. Addressing it starts with screening patients we know to be high risk.”

A headshot of Carlos Nunez, a ResMed expert on sleep apnoea

Why is sleep apnoea often undiagnosed?

A person awake in bed at night, covering their eyes in despair at insomnia.

With over 80% of obstructive sleep apnoea cases currently undiagnosed, there are millions of people who don’t know they’re affected2 by this common type of sleep disorder. This is in spite of repeatedly stopping breathing for 10 seconds or more throughout the night and jerking awake to avoid suffocation before the cycle starts again.

The disruptive breathing cycle causes chronic sleep deprivation, but most people don’t remember waking up to gasp for air. Instead, they’ll put their sleep apnoea symptoms down to stress or getting older. Or they end up being misdiagnosed with insomnia, migraines, chronic fatigue or other conditions.

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  1. Benjafield et al. Estimation of the global prevalence and burden of obstructive sleep apnoea: a literature-based analysis. Lancet Respiratory Medicine
  2. Hidden Health Crisis Costing America Billions, Underdiagnosing and Undertreating Obstructive Sleep Apnea Draining Healthcare System.

Content last updated: 01/2024