Undiagnosed sleep apnea costs U.S. billions yearly

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Undiagnosed sleep apnea costs U.S. billions yearly

CBS News cites a report by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine outlining the staggering costs to the U.S. economy from undiagnosed, untreated sleep apnea.  This is a condition in which a person's breathing pauses episodically during sleep. The most common cause is a complete or partial closing of the upper airway.

The resulting gasping and choking for air can lead to daytime sleepiness and puts strain on the heart.  In an accompanyin editorial, UW Medicine sleep medicine expert calls for more agressive and comprehensive testing and treatment of sleep apnea.

"Dramatic improvements to individual health and public safety, and significant health care savings, can be achieved through comprehensive diagnosis, treatment, and long-term management of obstructive sleep apnea," wrote Dr. Nathaniel Watson. "For a healthcare system that prioritizes services with lasting value, obstructive sleep apnea diagnosis and treatment is a bargain."