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The Importance of Treating Obstructive Sleep Apnea: Insights from Recent Research

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is more than just a nighttime nuisance; it’s a serious health condition that can significantly impact your overall well-being and increase your likelihood of needing future health services. Recent research presented at SLEEP 2024 highlights the critical importance of diagnosing and managing OSA early, especially in adults aged 50 years and older.

Key Findings

A study conducted by Christopher Kaufmann, PhD, MHS, and colleagues from the University of Florida College of Medicine, used data from the U.S. Health Retirement Study (2016-2018) to analyze the impact of sleep apnea on health service usage among 20,115 individuals aged 50 and above. Here are the essential takeaways from their research:

  • Increased Likelihood of Hospitalization:

    The study found that individuals with sleep apnea had a significantly higher likelihood of future health service use, including hospitalization, compared to those without the condition. Specifically, the odds for hospitalization increased by 21% in individuals with sleep apnea.

  • Higher Odds for Home Health Care:

    While not reaching statistical significance, the study also noted a trend towards increased use of home health care services among those with sleep apnea.

  • Impact on Older Adults:

    Among the older adults surveyed in 2016, 11.8% reported having been diagnosed with sleep apnea by a doctor. This group showed a heightened likelihood of using health services in the following years.

Why Early Diagnosis and Treatment Matter

The findings underscore the urgent need for health care providers to identify, screen, and manage OSA effectively to reduce preventable future health care utilization. Dr. Kaufmann emphasizes that early intervention is key to mitigating the risks associated with untreated sleep apnea.

Screening and Monitoring Tools

To facilitate early diagnosis, tools like the STOP-BANG questionnaire can be invaluable. This screening tool helps identify individuals at risk for OSA, who can then be referred to sleep labs for accurate diagnosis. Additionally, monitoring Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) use and adherence is crucial in promoting positive health outcomes for those diagnosed with OSA.

Real-World Data and Future Research

The study also highlights the potential of utilizing real-world data from Electronic Health Records (EHR) to further understand the relationship between OSA and health service utilization. Such data can provide deeper insights into process-based and CPAP usage measures, enabling more comprehensive, patient-centered approaches to managing sleep apnea.


OSA is a serious condition that requires prompt attention and effective management. The research presented at SLEEP 2024 serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of early diagnosis and treatment to prevent the increased health service utilization associated with untreated sleep apnea. By prioritizing OSA screening and monitoring, healthcare providers can help reduce the risk of hospitalization and other health service needs, ultimately improving the quality of life for their patients.

For more information on this study, visit SLEEP 2024.

At Comprehensive Sleep Care Center, we are dedicated to providing the best care and treatment for sleep disorders. If you suspect you have sleep apnea or have been diagnosed and need support managing your condition, please contact us to schedule an appointment with one of our specialists.