Roughly 175 million Europeans have obstructive sleep apnea, according to an presented by ResMed at the European Respiratory Society’s (ERS) annual ERS Congress in Paris. Leading researchers estimate 90 million Europeans have moderate to severe sleep apnea, meaning they experience at least 15 breathing events an hour during sleep. These statistics are based on the latest scoring rules for determining one’s apnea–hypopnea index (AASM 2012) and are connected with a 16-country study announced in May 2018 that revealed an estimated 936 million people worldwide have sleep apnea. The new global prevalence is nearly tenfold higher than the previous one—100 million—estimated by the World Health Organization in 2007.

European countries with the highest prevalence are:

  • Russia, 40 million
  • Germany, 26 million
  • France, 24 million
  • Ukraine, 13 million
  • Spain, 9 million
  • United Kingdom, 8 million

“This data is a warning call to Europe’s doctors and other care providers to properly identify, screen and diagnose these people so they can get the life-changing treatment they need,” says Adam Benjafield, PhD, lead researcher and ResMed’s vice president of Medical Affairs, in a release.

Benjafield says one sign of an at-risk patient is whether they have a related chronic medical condition:

  • 83% of people with drug-resistant hypertension have sleep apnea
  • 77% of people with obesity
  • 76% of people with chronic heart failure
  • 72% of people with type 2 diabetes
  • 62% of people with a prior stroke
  • 49% of people with atrial fibrillation

“Doctors should screen their patients if they have any of these conditions,” says Benjafield, “especially if a patient has exhibited sleep apnea-related symptoms like snoring, daytime sleepiness, or frequent nighttime urination.”