With this systematic review we aimed to determine the prevalence of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in adults in the general population and how it varied between population sub-groups. Twenty-four studies out of 3807 found by systematically searching PubMed and Embase databases were included in this review. Substantial methodological heterogeneity in population prevalence studies has caused a wide variation in the reported prevalence, which, in general, is high. At ≥5 events/h apnea-hypopnea index (AHI), the overall population prevalence ranged from 9% to 38% and was higher in men. It increased with increasing age and, in some elderly groups, was as high as 90% in men and 78% in women. At ≥15 events/h AHI, the prevalence in the general adult population ranged from 6% to 17%, being as high as 49% in the advanced ages. OSA prevalence was also greater in obese men and women. This systematic review of the overall body of evidence confirms that advancing age, male sex, and higher body-mass index increase OSA prevalence. The need to a) consider OSA as having a continuum in the general population and b) generate consensus on methodology and diagnostic threshold to define OSA so that the prevalence of OSA can be validly compared across regions and countries, and within age-/sex-specific subgroups, is highlighted.
Keywords: Age; Body-mass index; Female; General population; Male; Obesity; Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA); Prevalence; Sex; Trends.
Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.