Study objectives: Patients with untreated obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) have higher healthcare utilization than matched controls. However, the long-term impact of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) use on healthcare utilization is unknown.
Design: Retrospective observational cohort study.
Subjects: There were 342 eligible men with OSAS and matched controls on whom there were utilization data for 5 years prior to initial OSAS diagnosis and for the 5 years on CPAP treatment of the cases.
Interventions: Patients were treated with CPAP.
Results: Patients with OSAS were typical cases (mean +/- SD): age, 48.2 +/- 0.6 years; body mass index, 35.6 +/- 0.4 kg/m2; Epworth Sleepiness Scale score, 14.2 +/- 0.3; apnea-hypopnea index, 47.1 +/- 1.8 events per hour. The number of physician visits were higher by 3.46 +/- 0.2 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 2.57 to 4.36) in cases in the year before diagnosis, compared with the fifth year before diagnosis, then decreased over the next 5 years by 1.03 +/- 0.49 (95% CI: -1.99 to -0.07)(P<.0001). Physician fees, in Canadian dollars, were higher by dollars 148.65 +/- dollars 27.27 (95% CI: 95.12 to 202.10) in cases in the year before diagnosis, compared with the fifth year before diagnosis, and then decreased over the next 5 years by dollars 13.92 +/- dollars 27.94(95%CI: -68.68 to 40.83)(P=.0009). Preexisting ischemic heart disease at the time of OSAS diagnosis predicted about a 5-fold increase in healthcare utilization between the second and fifth year of treatment.
Conclusions: Treatment of OSAS reversed the trend of increasing healthcare utilization seen prior to diagnosis. Preexisting ischemic heart disease results in a negative impact on healthcare utilization. CPAP results in a long-term health benefit, as measured by the use of healthcare services.