According to the National Sleep Foundation, more than 18 million adults in the U.S. have sleep apnea, which often goes undiagnosed. Snoring is the most common symptom, as the airways are partially or completely obstructed during sleep. Secondary symptoms can include depression, sexual dysfunction, and memory impairment, and can lead to high blood pressure, stroke, heart arrhythmia, and even heart attack. Currently, the standard method for diagnosis is for the subject to visit a sleep center where vital signs are monitored during sleep. This is inconvenient and uncomfortable for many patients, and they may not have a suitable test location nearby.

ResApp Health Limited is an Australian company that has developed a smartphone app that can diagnose sleep apnea in a subject’s home. We’ve covered the company’s apps in the past, which can diagnose pneumonia and other respiratory diseases in both children and adults. Now the company has clinical data that supports the use of their app for diagnosing sleep apnea. The results show that their algorithm has an 84% sensitivity and 83% specificity for identifying patients with mild, moderate, or severe obstructive sleep apnea. The results correlated with standard sleep testing at about 90%.

This could lead to an inexpensive, highly-scalable method to screen for sleep apnea. In turn, this could help identify far more patients who currently have this condition, which could lead to effective treatment to avoid the expensive secondary results that can follow from apnea.