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Medical Advances in Sleep Apnea Research

The American Sleep Apnea Association estimates that 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea. They note that 80% of those are undiagnosed cases of moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea increases risks of complications like high blood pressure, chronic heart failure, atrial fibrillation, stroke, other cardiovascular problems, and higher risk for type 2 diabetes, depression, and accidents involving vehicles or heavy machinery. A 2020 study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) notes that excessive sleepiness effects 15% to 50% of people with obstructive sleep apnea, and those who have the condition have a two to three-fold increased risk of cardiovascular and metabolic disease. This means it is even more important to diagnose people with the condition and manage it effectively. Further 2020 findings in The Journal of Clinical Sleep remark on the increased risks of COVID-19 cardiovascular complications in patients with obstructive sleep apnea, and new findings in International Journal of Obesity also suggest that sleep-disordered breathing and obstructive sleep apnea may increase risks of cancer. It is clear that medical advances in sleep apnea research are still underway and continue to bring us more information about the condition, its risks, and the importance of managing symptoms.



  1. Almendros I, Martinez-Garcia MA, Farré R, Gozal D. Obesity, sleep apnea, and cancer. International Journal of Obesity. 2020;44(8):1653-1667. doi:10.1038/s41366-020-0549-z Accessed April 4, 2021. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41366-020-0549-z
  2. Gottlieb DJ, Punjabi NM. Diagnosis and Management of Obstructive Sleep Apnea. JAMA. 2020;323(14):1389. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.3514 Accessed April 4, 2021. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2764461
  3. Sleep Apnea Information for Clinicians. The American Sleep Apnea Association. Published December 2, 2020. Accessed April 4, 2021. https://www.sleepapnea.org/learn/sleep-apnea-information-clinicians/
  4. ‌ Tufik S, Gozal D, Ishikura IA, Pires GN, Andersen ML. Does obstructive sleep apnea lead to increased risk of COVID-19 infection and severity? J Clin Sleep Med. 2020;16(8):1425–1426. doi: 10.5664/jcsm.8596 Accessed April 4, 2021. https://jcsm.aasm.org/doi/full/10.5664/jcsm.8596
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