Obstructive sleep apnoea

Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) describes a condition when there are frequent pauses in breathing during sleep, associated with daytime symptoms and often linked to other conditions (comorbidities).

OSA is a very common disorder and affects around 13% of the male and 9% of the female population. It is not a life threatening condition in itself, but it can affect the heart, the brain and vessels, as it leads to oxygen deprivation of the body and bodily stress. This can result in serious problems such as arterial hypertension, heart failure, atrial fibrillation, stroke and diabetes.

OSA can have a great impact on quality of life. It affects quality of sleep, causing excessive daytime sleepiness and insomnia. It can also prevent a person driving a vehicle and affect school life, work and social activities.

“Sleep apnoea is a major health problem for affected patients. Suffering from disrupted sleep impacts their whole social and professional life. The major impact on multiple organs may lead to severe health consequences and may shorten life expectancy. The good news is that we have a variety of effective therapeutic options for individualised treatment.” Professor Winfried Randerath, Head of the European Respiratory Society’s Sleep disordered breathing assembly.

The charts below present the data available for obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) in Europe. Data was taken from a 2019 study based on a systematic review and publicly available data. It covered prevalence only. The systematic review found published estimates for Germany, Iceland, Norway, Poland, Spain and Switzerland, as well as multiple other countries worldwide. These estimates were used to model estimates worldwide. Data was only modelled for patients aged 30-69 years. Numbers were provided for apnoea hypopnoea index (AHI) ≥5 and ≥15.

Study used:

  • Benjafield AV, Ayas NT, Eastwood PR, et al. Estimation of the global prevalence and burden of obstructive sleep apnoea: a literature-based analysis. Lancet Respiratory Medicine 2019; 7: 687-698.

All charts are freely available to download by clicking the three dots in the top right-hand corner. Please reference Lung Facts when sharing.

  • Prevalence number
  • Prevalence rate