Dear Members of the American Sleep Association,
It is with a sense of gratitude that I acknowledge your efforts to improve the awareness of sleep disorders in our community. Although awareness of sleep disorders, including sleep apnea, insomnia, and restless legs syndrome, have increased over the past decade, the majority of patients remain untreated. Recognition of symptoms by both patients and their physician is vitally important to diagnosis.
The consequences of untreated sleep apnea include such catastrophic events as motor vehicle accidents and increased risk for heart attacks, strokes and cardiac arrythmias. As obesity soars to an epidemic level in our nation, so will sleep apnea.
The solution to this problem will depend on an increase in the awareness and education of the general public, as well as with healthcare providers. Your educational efforts aimed at the general public and primary care providers will be a valuable addition to the whole process.
Events like Sleep Apnea Awareness Week and Sleep Disorder Awareness Week will hopefully increase the recognition of sleep disorders in both of these groups.
I encourage the members of the American Sleep Association to continue their efforts with this very important cause.
C. Everett Koop, M.D., Sc.D.