Symptoms of sleep apnea syndrome: high prevalence and underdiagnosis in the French population

Sleep Med. 2012 Aug;13(7):852-8. doi: 10.1016/j.sleep.2012.04.005. Epub 2012 Jun 15.


Objective: To determine the prevalence of symptoms evocative of obstructive sleep apnea (SE-OSA) and the magnitude of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) underdiagnosis.

Methods: We used data from a cross-sectional survey conducted in 2008 in a representative sample of the French general population. Data were collected through interviews and self-administrated questionnaires and were complete for 12,203 adults (≥16 years old). SE-OSA was defined by snoring almost every night plus witnessed apneas or excessive daytime sleepiness (Epworth sleepiness scale score>10).

Results: The prevalence of SE-OSA was 4.9% (95% CI: 4.5-5.3), and that of self-reported OSA diagnosis was 2.4% (2.1-2.7). The prevalence of SE-OSA was 8% among people with hypertension and 11% among obese people. A previous sleep monitoring session was reported by 2.7% (2.4-3.0) of the participants and by 15.1% of people with SE-OSA. This latter proportion increased with age (24% in people with SE-OSA aged 60 years or over) and was higher in obese people (26%) and in those with chronic diseases (27% among people with hypertension).

Conclusion: The prevalence of SE-OSA is high in France and OSA remains underdiagnosed, even in people with obesity or hypertension. Further efforts are needed to improve the diagnosis of OSA.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diagnostic Errors / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • France / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / complications
  • Hypertension / epidemiology
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / complications
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / diagnosis
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / epidemiology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult