Epidemiological aspects of obstructive sleep apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is probably the most common respiratory disorder, with recent data from the United States and Europe suggesting that between 14% and 49% of middle-aged men have clinically significant OSA. The intimate relationship between OSA and obesity means that its prevalence will only increase as the global obesity epidemic evolves. At an individual level, OSA leads to a significant decrease in quality of life (QOL) and functional capacity, alongside a markedly increased risk of cardiovascular disease and death. Emerging data also suggest that the presence and severity of OSA and associated nocturnal hypoxemia are associated with an increased risk of diabetes and cancer. At a societal level, OSA not only leads to reduced economic productivity, but also constitutes a major treatable risk factor for hypertension, coronary artery disease (CAD) and stroke. This article addresses OSA from an epidemiological perspective, from prevalence studies to economic aspects to co-morbidity.