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Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), an emerging health problem


Abstract


Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is the most common respiratory disorder in Western societies: according to a first recent worldwide epidemiological study, it was estimated that 936 million patients aged 30-69 years with mild to moderate OSA and 425 million patients aged 30-69 years with severe OSA requiring CPAP treatment. Recently, the Centre for Research on Health and Social Care Management (CERGAS) at the Bocconi University of Milan has estimated that in Italy, the prevalence of moderate to severe OSA occurs in the 27% of the general population, with an overall prevalence of mild to medium-severe OSA of more than 24 million people aged between 15 and 74 years (54% of the adult population), while from a practical point of view, Italian doctors diagnosed only 460.000 moderate-severe patients (4 per cent of the estimated prevalence) and 230,000 patients were treated (2 per cent of the estimated prevalence), highlighting a substantial gap between diagnosis and treatment. In addition, OSA patients are often obese and the close correlation between the two conditions suggests that the prevalence of OSA will increase in the short term as obesity increases. At the individual level, OSA leads to a significant decrease in quality of life (HRQoL) and intellectual and mechanical/functional capacities with reduced physical activity, as well as a marked increase in sudden death and risk of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. Emerging epidemiological data also suggest that the severity of OSA associated with the severity of chronic nocturnal hypoxemia (CIH) correlates with an increased risk of diabetes mellitus, metabolic syndrome (MS) and cancer. OSA is also an important risk factor for high blood pressure, acute and chronic atrial fibrillation (FAC), chronic coronary artery disease (CAD) and stroke. It is therefore intuitive that at the social level, OSA also leads to a decline in economic productivity. This article addresses OSA from a new epidemiological perspective, according to the latest prevalence studies, and addresses emerging problems related to the diagnosis.

Keywords: obstructive sleep apnea; OSA

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