A Channel News Asia report indicates that one in three Singaporeans suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, with one in 10 suffering from a severe form of the disorder.
The study, funded by the Jurong Health Services Research and Quality Improvement Grant, also found that the disorder is often under-diagnosed. Up to 90 per cent of moderate-to-severe sleep apnea subjects in the study were previously undiagnosed, it added.
OSA is characterised by repeated collapse of the airway during sleep leading to low oxygen levels and arousals, and is associated with excessive daytime sleepiness, poor job and academic performance, increased risk of road traffic accidents and heart problems such as hypertension and heart failure.
OSA sufferers often report issues with memory, decision-making, depression and poor concentration while they are awake, the study said.
CHINESE, MALAYS MORE PRONE TO OSA
Additionally, the study found that the prevalence of OSA is higher among Chinese and Malays compared to Indians. The estimated prevalence of moderate-to-severe OSA for Chinese and Malays was 32.1 per cent and 33.8 per cent, respectively, while Indians accounted for 16.5 per cent, the study showed.
The study’s principal investigator Dr Adeline Tan, who is a consultant for respiratory medicine at Ng Teng Fong General Hospital, said obesity is one of the risk factors for OSA.
“Interestingly, the study showed that the Chinese have high OSA rates among the three major ethnic groups even though they have the lowest obesity rates. This study, done in the local context, collaborates with previous studies performed in the West, which also found that Chinese appear to be more at risk,” Dr Tan noted.