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.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Researchers Recommend Sleep Apnea Screening before Bariatric Surgery

People who are classified as morbidly obese often seek bariatric surgery to reduce their risks of serious health outcomes such as heart disease and cardiovascular-related death. Unfortunately, morbidly obese people are also at an elevated risk for obstructive sleep apnea, and obstructive sleep apnea sufferers are an increased risk for many surgical complications, including anesthesia-related death. In order to increase the safety and effectiveness of bariatric surgery, one team of researchers from the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery recommends that all bariatric surgery candidates be assessed for sleep apnea prior to undergoing surgery.

This recommendation is strengthened by a recent study that showed 86% of bariatric surgery candidates evaluated actually suffered from obstructive sleep apnea. The results showed that 18% had mild, 17% had moderate, and 51% had severe obstructive sleep apnea. Studies have shown that sleep apnea sufferers may have 2-3 times the risk of serious complications compared to non-sufferers. Since bariatric surgery already has a mortality risk of up to 0.6%, anything that can be done to reduce the risk of complications seems to be consistent with the ideal of best practices.

However, many bariatric surgeons (and patients) are resistant to the idea of using a sleep study prior to bariatric surgery. A sleep study conducted as an on-site polysomnography can be inconvenient, time-consuming, and expensive. Instead, they tend to rely on questionnaires, such as the STOP-BANG screening tool when considering whether to refer patients to a full sleep study. Although these screening tools are useful, they are only part of the solution.

If you are considering any serious surgery, you should talk to your doctor about sleep apnea and sleep apnea treatment. If you are looking for a comfortable sleep apnea treatment and alternative to CPAP, please contact a local sleep dentist today.

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posted by Dr. Candelaria at 2:22 PM