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25 Million Adults in US Suffering from Sleep Apnea

Update Date: Oct 01, 2014 09:09 AM EDT

More than 25 million adults in the US suffer from sleep apnea, which has seen increasing prevalence in recent years owing to the obesity epidemic.

The ongoing National Sleep Awareness Project reported findings on Tuesday while noting that increasing number of US adults suffering from sleep apnea are at risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and depression. Recent studies on sleep apnea and demographic show those afflicted are aged between 30 and 70, comprising 26 percent of the adult population.  

"Obstructive sleep apnea is destroying the health of millions of Americans, and the problem has only gotten worse over the last two decades. The effective treatment of sleep apnea is one of the keys to success as our nation attempts to reduce health care spending and improve chronic disease management," said American Academy of Sleep Medicine President Dr. Timothy Morgenthaler, in a press release.

The sleep awareness project has also compiled various studies showing consequences of sleep apnea and effectiveness of cure. One of the studies published online in the journal NeuroImage found functional and anatomical changes in brainstem regions of people with sleep apnea.

"A neuroimaging study in the September issue of the journal Sleep found that participants with severe, untreated sleep apnea had a significant reduction in white matter fiber integrity in multiple brain areas, which was accompanied by impairments to cognition, mood and daytime alertness," Medical Express reported.

"A Brazilian population study published online ahead of print Sept. 23 found that nocturnal cardiac arrhythmias occurred in 92 percent of patients with severe sleep apnea, compared with 53 percent of people without sleep apnea. The prevalence of rhythm disturbance also increased with sleep apnea severity," Red Orbit reported.

Currently, Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) is the preferred line of treatment in most cases of severe obstruction and apnea. Studies that were compiled also showed that CPAP therapy for one year reversed brain damage and reversed undesirable blood pressure increase.

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