Study: 170 Million People in the Americas Have Sleep Apnea

New ResMed study shows the sleep apnea patient population in Americas alone is well over previous worldwide estimates of 100 million people.

Approximately 170 million people across North and South America have sleep apnea, a number that reveals sleep apnea is more common in the Americas than previously thought, according to a new study by ResMed.

ResMed announced its findings at the annual SLEEP meeting hosted by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society. As well as reporting that 37 percent of adults in the Americas have sleep apnea, the study found that the three countries with the highest number of cases are the United States (54 million), Brazil (49 million) and Columbia (11 million).

Past estimates of how many people worldwide are affected by sleep apnea are far off from reality, said Carlos M. Nunez, M.D., co-author of the study and ResMed chief medical officer.

“Previous estimates stated 100 million worldwide have sleep apnea,” he noted. “Now we know it’s nearly double that in just the Americas alone. Given how common sleep apnea is, especially among people with other common diseases, doctors should screen their high-risk patients and help those who are diagnosed get onto life-changing treatment as soon as possible.”

In 2018, a ResMed data analysis discovered that approximately 936 million people worldwide are affected by sleep apnea.

In a related ResMed study conducted by ResMed earlier this year, cloud-connectable PAP devices that enable remote monitoring and patient self-monitoring generate higher-than-average adherence rates in patients. While the average adherence for non-cloud-connectable PAP devices is roughly 50 percent, while cloud-connectable PAP devices can raise adherence rates above 80 percent.

“Digital health can show patients how well they’re doing on treatment, coach them on how to improve, and motivate them by celebrating milestones they’ve reached,” Nunez said. “These features all help drive patient adherence, which is critical if we’re going to help millions reduce the short- and long-term risks associated with sleep apnea.”

About the Author

Kaitlyn DeHaven is the Associate Content Editor for HME Business and Mobility Management magazines. She can be reached at


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