MIR Insights

Sleep apnea: more damage than tornadoes and earthquakes.

When we think of disasters and economic consequences, our mind immediately goes to events such as tornadoes or earthquakes that in a country like the U.S. cause an average annual cost of 5-6 billion dollars with peaks of 15-16 on occasions of uncontrolled phenomena like the devastating 1994 California earthquakes and 2011 tornado.

Few people know that sleep apnea (OSA) produces eight times this annual cost. A real mess! It is estimated that a country like the U.S. spends about $ 16 billion a year for the costs arising from road accidents due to sleepiness OSAS (including expenses for funerals, flowers, insurance reimbursements, body shops, mechanics, etc.) And about 100 billion dollars a year for diseases or co-morbidities caused or aggravated by OSAS (costs due to strokes, heart attacks, days of hospitalization, work absences of family members, etc.).

The cost of OSAS, estimated at 120 mile per year, equivalent to about 1% of GDP in the U.S. (but could be any other country). More than any earthquake or tornado.

What it is even more ironic is that if we could put into therapy all patients with OSAS the U.S. alone would spend only 8 billion a year saving about $ 110 billion.

In Europe, an individual not suffering from chronic disease spends an average of $ 1,765 (€ 1,300) per year (antipyretic drugs and antibiotics, doctor visits, dental care, etc.). A person with undiagnosed OSA spends exactly twice, ie $ 3,530 (€ 2,600) per year.

The cost of therapy (including examinations and tests for follow-up) is equal to $ 543 (€ 400) per year which results in a net saving of $ 3,530-543-1,765 = $ 1,222 (€ 2600-400-1300 = € 900) per year for each subject. Not to mention the benefits that you would have on the health and daily activities.

You could coin a new slogan: to get better you must spend less.

A difficult concept to make clear to our politicians that, if they were wiser, would see the catastrophic economic proportions, OSAS has become something of an epidemic. In fact, it is safe to say that wherever we turn in the world OSAS is there.

It has long been known that OSA is more common in snorers (30% of the population), obese people, in those who do abuse alcohol or hypnotic drugs. But also affects lean subjects without snoring (1/3 of all cases). It is currently estimated that 22% of the adult male population and 9% of the female population have sleep apnea. Of these, about half have symptoms typical day and night . Not to mention the incidence of 2% in children.

Strange but true it is estimated that 2 out of 3 cases are not diagnosed. Practically an army of apneic go around causing traffic accidents (20% of all accidents) or working (I wonder how many fall from a scaffold or are injured by a blow to sleep).

Not to mention those who are asleep on the phone or during sexual intercourse (unbelievable but true ) . In short, a tragedy of staggering proportions that many do not know or are not able to recognize.

The severity of the problem suggests the importance of prevention programs with restrictions on the granting of the license.

In some countries, including some U.S. states the "public drivers", as the drivers of large vehicles or helicopters, to obtain and maintain employment eligibility, must perform periodic overnight monitoring with oximetry.

Doctor Zorro