My grandmother, quoting Benjamin Franklin, used to tell us kids that "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." As Barack Obama and his administration consider their health care priorities, I respectfully remind our President-elect of this old truism. Aggressive diagnosis and treatment of the estimated 30 million Americans with Sleep Apnea is the ounce of prevention that would be worth a pound of cure in the form of trips to the emergency room and treatment for acute medical calamities.
The reason is two-fold. First, Sleep Apnea is a common disorder. Approximately 30 million Americans have it, but only ten percent have been diagnosed. Of the diagnosed, only a small percentage are being treated. Couple that with the second reason, and the impact is clear: untreated Sleep Apnea is the precursor to an enormous range of debilitating medical ailments, including diabetes, stroke, hypertension, heart disease, obesity and other common diseases for which peer-reviewed scientific research constantly emerges.
Mr. President-elect, I respectfully submit that this is the low-hanging fruit in any solution to our health care crisis. Diagnosis of sleep apnea is easy and now even less costly with the wide availability of home testing. And there are well established, effective treatments for the disorder that prevent it from wreaking the havoc it otherwise would on the human body.
Some would have you believe that we should deploy all our health care resources first to the biggest, baddest diseases -- Cancer, Heart Disease, Diabetes, Obesity. True, we need to allocate our pound of cure to these. But please do also consider some investment in the ounce of prevention: diagnosis and treatment of Sleep Apnea.