Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a sleep-related breathing disorder that occurs when the muscles relax during sleep, causing soft tissue in the back of the throat to collapse and block the upper airway. This leads to pauses in breathing that can reduce blood oxygen saturation. The brain responds by rousing the body from sleep to restore normal breathing. The result is fragmented sleep that is often characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness.
OSA is estimated to occur in more than 6.5% of the adult population, or more than 20 million Americans. It can occur in any age group, but the prevalence is higher among those of middle and older age. It is more common in men than in women.
OSA is a significant yet under-diagnosed and under-treated chronic disease in the United States. About 80 to 90 percent of adults with OSA remain undiagnosed. Untreated OSA can be highly symptomatic and is associated with significant long-term negative health issues, including heart disease, diabetes, stroke and obesity. Studies have shown that healthcare utilization is 1.7-fold higher in patients with OSA than in those without the disease due to more hospitalization days, consultations and drug costs, particularly for cardiovascular drugs. The annual economic cost of moderate to severe OSA in the United States is estimated to be $65 to $165 billion, which is greater than asthma, heart failure, stroke and hypertensive disease ($20 to $80 billion).
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy, the standard of care for treating moderate and severe OSA, is consistently associated with physical and lifestyle challenges related to its forced air delivery through a mask. These may include skin irritation, nose stuffiness, air leaks around the mask, claustrophobic reactions to the mask, problems with spontaneous intimacy with a bed partner and the noise of the machine.