Obstructive sleep apnea affects around 20 million Americans and can lead to hypertension, heart attack, stroke, depression, muscle pain, fibromyalgia, morning headaches, and excessive daytime sleepiness.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Repeatability of Sleep Apnea Tests

Growing evidence that sleep apnea dangers are severe and the number of people suffering from undiagnosed sleep apnea have contributed to the large number of people seeking diagnosis of sleep apnea. However, the limited number of sleep centers offering polysomnography means long waiting lists, which means more time for people to suffer the potentially deadly consequences of sleep apnea. The development of at-home portable sleep recorders, which allow patients to test themselves in the comfort of their homes, offers the potential for more people to be positively diagnosed and hopefully receive treatment for sleep apnea sooner. But are in-home tests reliable?

A recent study published in the International Archives of Medicine showed that not only are the tests reliable, but they may be more reliable than in-lab assessments. The researchers took a small sample size of patients and gave them four tests--two in-lab and two at-home--over a period of six months and compared the results. Polysomnography results were taken and sent to three different accredited sleep laboratories for interpretation while the at-home tests were collected by the patients and scored according to standardized algorithms. According to the researchers, the in-lab tests showed a high degree of variability from test to test when compared to the at-home tests. Whereas at-home tests showed essentially no variability, the second polysomnography seemed biased toward greater apnea-hypopnea and apnea indices.

Although the study, with its small sample size, does not say whether one test is more accurate than the other, it does urge doctors using polysomnography to measure severity of sleep apnea to be aware of the possible bias of the test.

If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, we can help. Schedule a sleep apnea consultation at the Snoring and Sleep Apnea Center in Gurnee, Illinois today.

posted by Dr. Candelaria at 9:28 AM