Twenty-four percent of adult men and nine percent of adult women, or more than 20 million Americans, are estimated to have some degree of obstructive sleep apnea. Of these, six million are estimated to have cases severe enough to warrant immediate therapeutic intervention. However, obstructive sleep apnea was not well understood or recognized by primary care physicians until recently, and only a fraction of these 20 million obstructive sleep apnea patients have been diagnosed and treated by a physician. Somnus believes the number of patients currently undergoing treatment to be less than 500,000. With increased awareness in the physician and patient communities, a growing number of new patients are expected to be identified for treatment in the next few years.
While obstructive sleep apnea is commonly associated with obesity and male gender, it affects a broad cross-section of the population. Other risk factors include habitual snoring, which is often a precursor of more serious upper airway disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea. In fact, results from a recent study indicate that one in three men and nearly one in five women who snore habitually suffer from some degree of obstructive sleep apnea.