(HealthDay News) – The prevalence of sleep-disordered breathing seems to be increasing in the United States, according to a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Paul E. Peppard, PhD, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and colleagues used data from the Wisconsin Sleep Cohort Study to estimate the prevalence of sleep-disordered breathing in the United States for the periods of 1988–1994 and 2007–2010. Participants (1,520 adults aged 30–70 years) were randomly selected from an employed Wisconsin population and had undergone baseline polysomnography studies. Repeat studies were performed at four-year intervals. Moderate to severe sleep-disordered breathing was defined as 15 or more events/hour, measured using the apnea-hypopnea index.

The researchers found that, for men, the current prevalence estimates of moderate to severe sleep-disordered breathing were 10% for 30–49-year-olds and 17% for 50- to 70-year-olds. For women, the corresponding prevalence estimates were 3% and 9%.

“These estimated prevalence rates represent substantial increases over the last two decades (relative increases of between 14% and 55% depending on the subgroup),” the authors write.

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