Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sleep Apnea Diagnosis Delays in Canada

There are many problems with the American health care system, but as we are considering health care reform, it is important to pay attention to the weaknesses of alternate systems. Canada's health system often receives high marks for both its ability to provide universal care and its ability to resist industry pressures that can put profit above public good. However, one of the most common complaints about the Canadian system is long wait times for treatments, especially treatments involving specialists who are in demand and can cross the border into the United States.

Sleep medicine is one area where people can suffer potentially deadly delays as a result of the system. In Saskatchewan, for example, there are very few labs able to diagnose sleep apnea. One lab has a waiting list of over 2000 people, and some of these people have been waiting five years for diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea. Because of the myriad dangers of sleep apnea, Health Canada guidelines recommend a maximum wait time for sleep apnea diagnosis of two to six months.

A relatively new program in Saskatchewan, though, has given thousands of Canadians an option. Instead of waiting in line for diagnosis at a sleep lab, people who suspect sleep apnea can take home a portable testing kit to determine whether they are likely to be suffering from sleep apnea.

The only problem with the program? Funding. Although it has successfully reduce the waiting lists at the area sleep clinic and brought wait times into the recommended length, the provincial government is unsure whether it wants to continue funding the program. With funding up in the air, it is uncertain whether the program will be cut off despite its early success.

At the Snoring and Sleep Apnea Treatment Center in Gurnee, Illinois, we can make sure you receive timely diagnosis and treatment for your sleep apnea. Schedule a sleep apnea consultation today.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Sleep Apnea and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

As we experience the return of another generation of veterans of foreign wars, we have to prepare ourselves for the onset of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in thousands of veterans. And for many sufferers of PTSD, sleep apnea is either a contributing cause or, at least, what is known as a comorbidity, a disease that occurs alongside as a result of the same causes. If we are to facilitate the transition of veterans and others back into normal life following traumatic events, diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea must be part of the solution.

In one study of crime victims suffering from PTSD, 90 % of the victims also suffered from respiratory disruption, and half also suffered from obstructive sleep apnea. Other studies have found similar results, and it has been determined that insomnia and daytime sleepiness within a month after the traumatic event are important predictors for the development of PTSD.

With PTSD, as with obesity, it is hard to determine which came first. But sleep apnea saps a person's mental and physical resources for dealing with life events. Since it is impossible to predict who will suffer from PTSD after a traumatic event, all that we can say is that people with sleep disorders are more likely to develop PTSD.

In one case study of a Vietnam Veteran who suffered from both sleep apnea and PTSD, the treatment of sleep apnea led to a significant reduction in PTSD symptoms. The man had frequent waking episodes, often accompanied by choking, and he complained of nightmares and flashbacks to his combat experience. Once the man began CPAP treatment, and his level of REM sleep increased, his PTSD all improved. His doctors attributed this in part to the dramatic reduction of his waking instances during REM sleep and more time spent in REM sleep.

If you or a loved one have suffered a traumatic event and are finding it hard to get back to normal life. If your sleep is disrupted and you fear for your physical and mental health, sleep apnea might be part of the problem, and treatment part of the solution. Schedule a sleep apnea consultation at the Snoring and Sleep Apnea Treatment Center in Gurnee, Illinois today.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Even Mild Sleep Apnea Can Be Serious Health Risk

According to a study published this month in the American Thoracic Society's American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, even people with "minimally-symptomatic" obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can face serious consequences in terms of cardiovascular health.

The symptoms of sleep apnea are relatively easy to identify once you know what you're looking for. Snoring, daytime sleepiness, weight gain, impaired cognitive function and focus, can make a very clear pattern pointing in the direction of sleep apnea. But as little as 1 in 5 sleep apnea sufferers actually manifests the discernible symptoms of sleep apnea. Because they are harder to identify and study, the risk these people, with only mild to moderate OSA, face has not been studied in the past. However, this study, conducted by the Oxford Centre for Respiratory Medicine, identifies the significant risk of cardiovascular damage even in very mild cases of OSA.

According to the study's results, people with sleep apnea had blood vessels less able to expand and contract to regulate blood flow, and their arteries were significantly more stiff than non-apneic subjects. Surprisingly, apnea sufferers had higher blood pressure, but not significantly.

Although blood pressure was not determined to be a factor in this study, the cardiovascular symptoms pointed to by the study still represent an increased risk for people with even mild, largely asymptomatic OSA.

If you experience even intermittent hints that you may suffer from sleep apnea, the potential dangers of sleep apnea justify undergoing evaluation to determine the presence or absence of the condition. And if you have only mild OSA, it is more likely that you can receive good results with non-invasive, comfortable oral appliance therapy. Schedule a sleep apnea consultation with the Snoring and Sleep Apnea Treatment Center in Gurnee, Illinois, to learn more.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Apnea Leads to Poor Diet

In research similar to our earlier discussion about Sleep Apnea as a Cause of Obesity, rather than vice-versa, researchers in Arizona published a study showing that people with sleep disordered breathing (SDB) consumed more fatty foods and cholesterol if their SDB was more severe. The researchers looked at baseline data collected as part of The Apnea Positive Pressure Long-term Efficacy Study (APPLES), an attempt to gauge the effectiveness of CPAP and related treatments over time. Then they correlated the information with a number of different variables, especially what is known as respiratory disturbance index (RDI).

All of the patients in the study had sleep apnea. In looking at the data, researchers also found that people with an RDI > 50, meaning people with more disturbed sleep breathing, consumed a diet that was higher in cholesterol, protein, total fat, and total saturated fat. In fact, those with higher RDI's consumed, on a daily basis,

88.16 mg more cholesterol

21.96 g more protein

27.75 g more total fat

9.24 g more saturated fat

Although apnea is commonly correlated with obesity, these results were after correction based on body mass index (BMI), meaning that there seems to be an independent correlation between SDB and diet. Although it seems unwise to jump to conclusions, this study points strongly in the direction that, in some cases at least, sleep apnea causes obesity rather than the other way around.

If you find you are having trouble sticking to a diet and losing weight because of unexplained cravings or appetite that is out of control, perhaps SDB is to blame. Schedule a sleep apnea consultation at the Snoring and Sleep Apnea Treatment Center in Gurnee, Illinois, today.