Key Sleep Apnea Statistics:
- About 1 in 5 adults have at least mild symptoms of sleep apnea.
- Around 22 million people in the US have some form of sleep apnea.
- Sleep apnea can cause health complications that shorten a person's lifespan by 12 to 15 years.
- China is the country with the highest number of obstructive sleep apnea sufferers (66 million).
- 80% to 90% of cases of obstructive sleep apnea haven't been diagnosed.
- CPAP machines are 100% effective at treating sleep apnea, but about half of all patients stop using them because they're uncomfortable.
- The global CPAP market was worth $3.7 billion in 2020, and it's expected to grow at 6.2% per year through 2028.
- About 96% of cases of sleep apnea are obstructive, with the rest involving the central nervous system.
- Men are about twice as likely to have obstructive sleep apnea as women.
- Middle-aged and older people are more likely to have sleep apnea than younger people, with about 27% of those age 30 to 70 having symptoms.
- Only about 1% to 4% of children have obstructive sleep apnea, but the condition can cause serious complications for children.
Sleep Apnea Prevalence
How many people have sleep apnea?
- About 1 in 5 adults have at least mild symptoms of sleep apnea.
- About a third of those adults have moderate or severe symptoms, potentially with complications.
- 1 out of every 4 middle-aged men has some form of obstructive sleep apnea, while fewer than 1 in 10 middle-aged women does.
Sleep apnea is a condition in which a person's breathing stops periodically as they sleep. There are two main types of sleep apnea: obstructive and central. Obstructive sleep apnea is by far the most common, accounting for more than 95% of cases.
With obstructive sleep apnea, the airway partially collapses while you sleep. This closes your throat off and causes an interruption in your breathing. People who are overweight are more likely to develop obstructive sleep apnea because of the extra fat cells around the throat.
Central sleep apnea is related to the central nervous system. With this type of sleep apnea, the central nervous system causes people to stop breathing. This is a rare type of sleep apnea that affects less than 1% of the population of the United States.
Sometimes people experience both types of sleep apnea at once. It's common for obstructive sleep apnea to be the most prevalent of the symptoms in these cases.
About 20% of the people in the US have symptoms of sleep apnea, but most of these are not diagnosed. There are similar rates of sleep apnea in Asia. However, people in Asia tend to have lower rates of obesity. Certain ethnicities like African Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans are more likely to develop sleep apnea.
How many Americans have sleep apnea?
- Statistics show that around 22 million people in the US have some form of sleep apnea.
- African American people have obstructive sleep apnea at more than double the rate of Caucasian people.
- One sleep study indicates that 0.9% of Americans have the central type of sleep apnea, which is related to nervous system dysfunction.
The US has the fourth highest population of people with sleep apnea. It's estimated that about 20% of the adults in the US have sleep apnea.
However, only about a third of those people experience moderate or severe symptoms. About 25% of people in the US with obstructive sleep apnea don't experience any symptoms during the day at all.
Central sleep apnea is far less common in the US than obstructive sleep apnea. Less than 1% of the total population has it.
Meanwhile, 20% of the population has sleep apnea in general. Researchers believe that at least 80% -- and up to 96% -- of sleep apnea cases in the United States are caused by obstructive apnea.
Percentage of population with sleep apnea
- About 20% of the global population has sleep apnea, but symptoms are only moderate or severe for about 7% of people.
- About 17% of African Americans in the US have sleep apnea, compared to 8% of Caucasian individuals.
- About 25% of middle-aged men have obstructive sleep apnea, while only 9% of women in the same age range do.
How many people die from sleep apnea?
- About 38,000 Americans die yearly due to heart disease that is complicated by sleep apnea.
- Sleep apnea itself is unlikely to kill you, but complications from the condition can.
- People with sleep apnea are more prone to stroke, asthma, high blood pressure, and diabetes, all of which increase risk of death.
Sleep apnea is extremely unlikely to kill you by itself. You are unlikely to experience enough interruptions in your breathing to suffocate or to experience damage from low oxygen. But there are a variety of complications that can be serious. Thousands of people die in the US alone because of heart disease that is complicated by sleep apnea.
Many people with sleep apnea have heart disease. Sleep apnea can also worsen existing heart disease. This may be partially because of how it causes interruptions to your sleep. Getting enough rest is one of the key factors in treating heart disease naturally.
It's vital to get a sleep apnea diagnosis in order to take care of your health. But many people don't know that they have sleep apnea in the first place. Up to 9 out of 10 individuals with sleep apnea don't have a diagnosis.
They might not know to talk to a doctor about their symptoms. Even when they do speak to a doctor about fatigue, their doctor might not recognize the symptoms either.
In addition to the cardiac complications, people with sleep apnea are at an increased risk of developing a variety of different conditions.
If you already have these conditions, sleep apnea can make them worse. It can lead to high blood pressure, COPD, asthma, diabetes, or stroke. While sleep apnea alone doesn't often cause these things, your risk will be higher if you have other risk factors.
One of the biggest problems with sleep apnea is hypoxia. This is the medical term for having a low level of oxygen throughout the body. Hypoxia naturally triggers a stress response. This makes your arteries narrow, your heart beat faster, and your cortisol levels rise.
The stress from hypoxia can lead to a faster heart rate and higher blood pressure. It can also cause your body to create a greater volume of blood. You're more likely to have widespread inflammation throughout your body. Heightened cortisol levels can also cause general pain and anxiety.
One study indicated that people with sleep apnea are up to three times more likely to have a stroke than people without the condition.
Another study indicated that sleep apnea can raise your chances of a heart attack by up to 30 percent in just five years. One more study showed that people with sleep apnea are more likely to die due to cardiac issues.
You will have a higher risk of sudden death if you meet certain qualifications. Those who are at least 60 years old have a higher risk, as do those who have at least 20 episodes of sleep apnea per hour.
Your risk will also be heightened if your O2 levels drop below 78% as you sleep. This is rare with regular sleep apnea, but it can happen in severe cases or in cases where the person has conditions like COPD.
About 6 in 10 people with heart failure have some form of sleep apnea. When heart failure patients were treated for sleep apnea as well as their cardiac issues, they had a better survival rate over two years.
This is because sleep apnea can make heart conditions much worse, even when the conditions are being treated with medication and exercise.
When people with an irregular heartbeat and sleep apnea have both of these conditions treated, about 60% don't need any further cardiac treatment.
About 40% do need more cardiac treatment in the future, but their overall health and prognosis tends to be better. Without treating sleep apnea, the chances of needing further treatment tend to be about 80%, or doubled.
A study conducted at Yale showed that type 2 diabetes and sleep apnea were linked. People with sleep apnea had more than twice the level of risk of developing type 2 diabetes as people without it.
Undiagnosed sleep apnea statistics
- Sleep apnea is estimated to affect about 20% of the population, but 90% of those with the condition are not diagnosed.
- About 80% of people with moderate to severe symptoms have never been diagnosed with sleep apnea.
- The obstructive type of sleep apnea is dominant in over 96% of undiagnosed cases.
There are different estimates on the number of undiagnosed sleep apnea cases. Most researchers agree that somewhere from 80% to 90% of cases have never been diagnosed. Some researchers believe that even more than 90% of cases are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.
Some researchers believe that sleep apnea might have an effect on the outcomes of surgical patients who undergo anesthesia. However, further research is needed on this.
There hasn't been any established figure for the number of surgery patients who have sleep apnea. It is likely comparable to the general population, though, with 80% to 90% having never been diagnosed.
How many people use CPAP?
- In the US, over 8 million people use CPAP machines.
- There are up to 30 million people in the US who could benefit from a CPAP machine, but who don't know this.
- The number of CPAP users in the US grows up to 9% annually.
A CPAP machine is one of the most popular treatments for obstructive sleep apnea. CPAP stands for "continuous positive airway pressure."
With obstructive sleep apnea, your throat becomes blocked while you sleep. This causes an interruption in your breathing. CPAP machines move oxygen steadily through your mouth and nose during sleep. They use high amounts of pressure to make sure that your airway remains open so that you breathe normally.
When CPAP machines are configured correctly, they have an effectiveness of 100% in treating obstructive sleep apnea. The pressure is able to keep your throat from collapsing, no matter how much you weigh or what position you sleep in.
But the machines can also be difficult to calibrate, and some patients find them too uncomfortable to use.
What is the success rate of CPAP?
- CPAP machines are shown to be 100% effective, as long as you're able to wear one comfortably.
- People who use CPAP machines consistently show better overall health and a better prognosis with sleep apnea than those who don't.
- Some people stop using CPAP machines because they can be cumbersome and uncomfortable to wear during the night.
When CPAP machines are properly configured, they are 100% successful at treating sleep apnea. In severe cases of sleep apnea, they might not entirely remove every potential collapse, but they will improve symptoms significantly. Many people find that they don't experience any snoring or sleep apnea at all when they sleep with the CPAP mask on.
The motor of a CPAP machine creates an ongoing stream of high-pressure air. This travels into a tube through an air filter. The tube allows pure air to flow into a mask on the patient's face. The stream of air presses against blockages in your throat, opening the airway before it can fully close. This helps you to receive more consistent oxygen throughout the night.
How many CPAP machines are sold each year?
- About 8 million CPAP machines or components are sold in the US every year.
- About 2.5 million CPAP machines or components are sold outside the US every year.
- CPAP sanitizing companies have grown exponentially over the past few years because of their ability to extend the lifespan of a CPAP machine.
How big is the CPAP market?
- The global CPAP market was worth $3.7 billion in 2020.
- The CPAP market is expected to grow at 6.2% annually from 2022 through 2028.
- The need for CPAP machines may increase in the coming years due to long COVID symptoms influencing sleep apnea.
What percentage of people stop using their CPAP machine?
- Studies show that at least 33% of people quit their CPAP machine or never fill the prescription they get.
- Other studies indicate that more than half of all CPAP users may stop using their machine regularly at times.
- The most common reason to quit using a CPAP machine is because the machine is uncomfortable to work with.
Even though CPAP machines are very effective at treating sleep apnea, many patients don't use them. Some patients don't even fill their prescription in the first place. Others use the CPAP machine for a few weeks, then decide to discontinue use. Still others continue to use their CPAP machine, but they don't use it every time they sleep.
Statistics indicate that at least 1 in 3 patients with a CPAP machine don't use it properly. Other studies show that more than half of patients might not adhere to their CPAP treatment protocols.
The main reason that people stop using a CPAP machine is because of discomfort. It's difficult to arrange the tubing and the mask in a way that's comfortable. The equipment can get in the way if you change sleeping positions, and the machine isn't built well for side sleepers.
Another factor is sanitation. It can be difficult to keep the CPAP mask clean. One startup healthcare company has grown exponentially because it designs CPAP machine sanitation solutions that are easy for people to implement.
Discomfort and sanitation aren't the only reasons that people might stop using their CPAP machine. In the United States, confusion about health insurance can also stop people. Some people don't realize that their health insurance will cover a prescribed machine. Others have strict healthcare policies that won't cover a CPAP machine without trying other therapies first.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea Statistics
What percentage of the population has obstructive sleep apnea?
- Up to 7% of men and up to 5% of women have obstructive sleep apnea serious enough to cause fogginess during the day.
- Mild obstructive sleep apnea is prevalent in about 22% of men but only 17% of women.
- Obstructive sleep apnea is responsible for over 90% of sleep apnea cases, with central sleep apnea being the main component in the rest.
How many people have obstructive sleep apnea in the United States?
- Obstructive sleep apnea with moderate to serious symptoms affects about 1 in 12 people in the US.
- One study shows that up to 80% of obstructive sleep apnea cases in the US have never been diagnosed.
- About 1 in 4 Americans with obstructive sleep apnea don't have any symptoms like daytime sleepiness or difficulty concentrating.
How long can you live with untreated sleep apnea?
- Untreated sleep apnea is unlikely to kill you by itself, but it does heighten your risk of other health complications.
- Obstructive sleep apnea has been shown to shorten a person's lifespan by up to 15 years.
- People who undergo treatment for obstructive sleep apnea tend to have better health outcomes and a better overall prognosis.
Sleep Apnea Demographics
Sleep Apnea Rates By Age
- About 26% of adults between the ages of 30 and 70 have some form of obstructive sleep apnea.
- Somewhere between 1% and 4% of children ages 2 through 8 have obstructive sleep apnea.
- Men over the age of 70 are less likely to develop obstructive sleep apnea or to snore.
Sleep Apnea Rates By Race
- African American men between the ages of 40 and 60 are more likely to develop sleep apnea than Caucasian men in the same age group, regardless of their overall health.
- Hispanic and Native American women report more pauses in their nighttime breathing than white women of similar ages.
- In Asia, the rate of sleep apnea is similar to the US, even though there are lower obesity rates in Asia.
Sleep Apnea Rates by Gender
- About 23% of women experience some form of disordered breathing while sleeping.
- About 50% of men experience some form of disordered breathing while sleeping.
- Studies indicate that twice as many men have obstructive sleep apnea as women.
Sleep Apnea Rates by Country
- China has the highest prevalence of obstructive sleep apnea in the world, with about 66 million patients.
- The next top four countries for obstructive sleep apnea are India, Brazil, the United States, and Russia.
- Percentage-wise, Russia has the greatest prevalence of obstructive sleep apnea, with about 26% of the population experiencing some symptoms.
Sleep apnea can be a serious condition, but it is very treatable. Hopefully now you know more about the causes and treatments for sleep apnea!