Untreated Sleep Apnea is Costing Us Billions

We know that untreated sleep apnea can lead to further complications in a person’s overall health–that’s an easy one. But did you also know that untreated sleep apnea is costing us billions? It is and that is just another reason why you, as a dentist, should continue your education in the area of sleep apnea.

Sleep Apnea is Costly

According to a report commissioned by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is costing the United States about $150 billion annually. Wow, that’s a lot of money. But what does that cost factor in? The estimated cost includes:

  • $26.2 billion in car accidents
  • $6.5 billion in workplace accidents
  • $30 billion in increased healthcare utilization and medication costs
    • This is due to comorbidities such as Hypertension, Diabetes and Stroke.

Sleep apnea is affecting 29.4 million (roughly 12%) of the adult population. While 12% doesn’t seem like that much, it is still too much. For a condition that is easily treatable, there shouldn’t be so many people that go untreated or undiagnosed. Through diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea, it is estimated that it could result in $100 billion in savings–now that’s a lot.

Health Conditions and Untreated Sleep Apnea

Now that you know the financial ramifications of untreated sleep apnea, let’s take a refresher on the health conditions resulting from it:

  • Heart Disease – Sleep apnea can lead to heart attacks, which cause people to die in the middle of the night due to low oxygen or the stress of waking up frequently during sleep.
  • High Blood Pressure – OSA can contribute to high blood pressure due to the frequency of waking up at nighttime. This causes hormonal systems to go into overdrive.
  • Type 2 Diabetes – People suffering from type 2 diabetes will often suffer from sleep apnea, which can also lead to obesity, which is the number one cause of sleep apnea.
  • Acid Reflux – There’s no proof that sleep apnea causes acid reflux or persistent heartburn, but it has been shown that sleep apnea sufferers complain of acid reflux.
  • Obesity – A leading cause and side effect of sleep apnea, obesity raises the risk of sleep apnea due to weight gain. Losing weight can often help cure sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea can be easily treated, so why haven’t you taken the steps to offering treatment options in your office? Let’s get started. Continuing education will help you offer advanced services for a treatment that could save us billions each year.