Sleep survey reveals that 78 percent of people suffering from sleep apnea are unaware of it

Philips Electronics have announced the results of an extensive new scientific study into sleep apnea, conducted over the last two years by Philips in collaboration with University of Twente.The study, which surveyed 4,206 Philips employees in the Netherlands, revealed that 6.4% of them suffered from sleep apnea. A striking finding was that 78% of the people surveyed who reported symptoms of sleep apnea were entirely unaware that they were suffering from this sleep disorder.

Never before has research into sleep apnea been conducted among such a large group of people. 29% of all Philips employees in the Netherlands took part in the study, comprising men and women of different ages and levels of education, with different types of job and different cultural backgrounds. Previous screening studies were based on considerably smaller populations. For example, an often cited study published in 1993 examined a group of 602 people. It was estimated in this study that 2% of women and 4% of men in the middle-aged work force suffer from sleep apnea.

Piet-Heijn van Mechelen, Chair of Dutch patient organization ApneuVereniging and Project Leader for the survey, is pleased that the study has produced clear results. “Hundreds of thousands of people have symptoms but don’t know what the problem is,” he says. “This study provides valuable new insights into how often the condition occurs. And with the new screening method that was developed for this study, sleep apnea can be identified at an earlier stage and the quality of life of patients suffering from the condition can be greatly improved with treatment.”

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