Greater medical care needed for older adults with untreated sleep apnea

Greater medical care needed for older adults with untreated sleep apnea

Reviewed by Kate Anderton, B.Sc. (Editor) Jan 16 2020 Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common and costly medical condition leading to a wide range of health risks such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, depression, diabetes and even premature death. Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) found that the medical costs are substantially higher among older adults who go untreated for the disorder. The research, which was published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine , involved a review of a national sample of Medicare claims data. The researchers measured the health care costs over a year among Medicare beneficiaries who were 65 years and older and were ultimately diagnosed with OSA. They found that patients who went undiagnosed with OSA over a 12-month period had more doctor's appointments, emergency room visits, and hospital stays prior to being treated for the disorder. These patients on average had nearly $20,000 more in costs a year than those who were diagnosed and treated for OSA, the research found. "Sleep disorders represent a massive economic burden on the U.S. health care system," said Emerson Wickwire, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Medicine at UMSOM and Director of the Insomnia Program at the University of Maryland Medical Center, Midtown Campus. Dr. Wickwire, who was the Principal Investigator for this research, explained that economic aspects of diseases are increasingly recognized as important drivers of health decisions by patients, those paying for services, policymakers and ultimately the taxpayers. Medical costs among those untreated for OSA will continue to rise, Dr. Wickwire cautioned, highlighting the importance of early detection and treatment among older adults.. We conducted the largest economic analysis of sleep apnea among older adults to date. Medicare beneficiaries with obstructive sleep apnea cost taxpayers an additional $19,566 per year and utilized more outpatient, emergency, inpatient, prescription, and overall health care services. It's important to realize that costs associated with untreated sleep disorders are likely to continue to accrue year after year, which is why our group focuses on early recognition and treatment." Dr. Emerson Wickwire, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Medicine at UMSOM Related Stories



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