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If you have difficulty falling and/or staying asleep, or difficulty staying awake, you’re among the millions of Americans with a sleep disorder.


What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea is defined as 5 or more episodes of apnea or shalow breating (hypopnea) per hour of sleep in individuals who have excessive daytime sleepiness. Patients with 15 or more episodes of apnea or hypopnea per hour of sleep are considered to have moderate sleep apnea. An obstructive apnea episode is defined as the absence of airflow for at least 10 seconds.


Sleep apnea was first described in the 1965.


How many people are affected?
It is estimated that as many as 18 million Americans have sleep apnea, while approximately 1 in 50 or 2.00% or 5.4 million people in USA remain undiagnosed.


Are men and women affected equally? 

It is estimated that 4 percent of middle-aged men and 2 percent of middle-aged women meet minimal criteria for sleep apnea syndrome.


Physical characteristics
A large neck (17 inches or greater in men and 16 inches or greater in women) is a risk factor for sleep apnea.
More facts 
Up to 50 percent of people with sleep apnea also suffer from high blood pressure. People with sleep apnea are three times more likely to be involved in motor vehicle accidents.  African-Americans, Pacific Islanders, and Mexican-Americans may be at increased risk for sleep apnea.  Smoking and alcohol use increase the risk of sleep apnea. 

Diabetes.Diabetes is associated with sleep apnea and snoring. It is not clear if there is an independent relationship between the two conditions or whether obesity is the only common factor.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). GERD is a condition caused by acid backing up into the esophagus. It is a common cause of heartburn. GERD and sleep apnea often coincide. Obesity is common in both conditions and more research is needed to clarify the association.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). Obstructive sleep apnea and excessive daytime sleepiness appear to be associated with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). About half of patients with PCOS also have diabetes. Obesity and diabetes are associated with both sleep apnea and PCOS and may be the common factors.

Obesity. When it comes to sleep apnea and obesity, it is not always clear which condition is responsible for the other. For example, obesity is often a risk factor and possibly a cause of sleep apnea, but it is also likely that sleep apnea increases the risk for weight gain.

Parkinson's Disease. Sleep disorders in Parkinson's disease (PD) are frequent. Both nighttime sleep disturbances and daytime sleepiness can occur. The key to effective treatment is appropriate diagnosis. Referral to a sleep specialist for quantitative studies is necessary to evaluate for rapid eye movement (REM), sleep apnea, and periodic limb movements.



Smokers are at higher risk for apnea. Those who smoke more than two packs a day have a risk 40 times greater than non-smokers.


Alcohol use may be associated with apnea. Patients diagnosed with sleep apnea are recommended not to drink alcohol before bedtime.


Sleep apnea can lead to a number of complications, ranging from daytime sleepiness to possible increased risk of death. Sleep apnea has a strong association with several diseases, particularly those related to the heart and circulation.


What is CPAP?   

Continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, is the most common and effective treatment for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). A steady flow of air under pressure from a CPAP device keeps your airway open and restores normal oxygen levels as you sleep.

Most people see positive results quickly, though this varies from person to person. For some, their initial night of using CPAP may feel like the first good night of sleep they have had in years.

The units you receive at home are much smaller than what you’ve seen in the lab. Most are smaller than a shoebox and weigh only two to three pounds. The pressure required to treat OSA varies from patient to patient. The Sleep Specialist determines the appropriate pressure setting after reviewing your sleep study.




American Sleep Apnea Association


National Center on Sleep Disorder Research


National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke


National Sleep Foundation