Reena Mehra, MD, MS: Underdiagnosis of Obstructive Sleep Apnea


The director of the Sleep Disorders Research Program at Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine spoke about the challenge of OSA being underdiagnosed, and what her institution is doing to combat it.

“It’s concerning because [OSA] is so widely prevalent. Around 10% to 15% of the population is estimated to have obstructive sleep apnea, and it’s been increasing in recognition—in terms of awareness.”

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is expected to be present at ≥5 events/h on the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) in as few as 9% and as many as 38% of the general population, with increasing prevalence corresponding with increasing age—even rising as high as 90% in men and 78% in women in some elderly groups.1

For Reena Mehra, MD, MS, director, Sleep Disorders Research Program, and professor of medicine, Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine, this is troubling, mainly because it implies a high rate of underdiagnosis. To do its part in improving this landscape, Mehra and colleagues at Cleveland Clinic are seeking to develop a care path for OSA, with a goal of increasing physician awareness of and screening for OSA.

In a conversation with NeurologyLive, Mehra detailed the challenges of addressing the underdiagnosis of OSA, as well as some factors which may be contributing to the lower-than-expected diagnoses.


1. Senaratna CV, Perret JL, Lodge CJ, et al. Prevalence of obstructive sleep apnea in the general population: A systematic review. Sleep Med Rev. 2017;34:70-81. doi: 10.1016/j.smrv.2016.07.002.

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