HealthDay News — Current evidence is insufficient to assess the balance of benefits and harms of screening for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in adults without any known signs or symptoms of the condition, according to a U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommendation published in the January 24/31 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

“This is the first time that the Task Force has reviewed the evidence on screening for OSA,” Task Force member Alex H. Krist, MD, MPH, said in a news release from the group. “OSA represents a major health concern; it affects 10 to 15% of the U.S. population and is associated with heart disease, diabetes, reduced quality of life, and increased risk of death. Primary care doctors want to know if screening is beneficial for patients. Unfortunately, right now, there is not enough evidence to know.” 

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The recommendation doesn’t apply to adults who do have symptoms or concerns about OSA, the Task Force stressed. It also isn’t for people who have a medical condition, such as stroke, that could trigger the onset of sleep apnea. Nor does it apply to children, teens, or pregnant women.

“The Task Force is calling for more research among primary care patients on whether screening adults without known symptoms leads to improvements in health outcomes,” Jessica Herzstein, MD, MPH, a coauthor of the recommendation, said in the news release. “Clinicians should use their clinical judgment when deciding whether or not to screen their patients for OSA.”

Recommendation Statement
Evidence Review