Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Research Suggests Link between Sleep Disorders and Schizophrenia

Sleep disorders have long been linked to mental health problems including depression, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and bipolar disorder among others. A recent University of Oxford study suggests there may also be a link between sleep disorders and schizophrenia.

The causes of schizophrenia are not understood, although some genetic predispositions are thought to play a role. However, many schizophrenia patients suffer from sleeping problems.

While sleeping problems can be triggered by lifestyle factors, genetics and medications, Oxford researchers found that sleep disorders seem to exist in schizophrenics regardless of these factors. The study, which was led by Professor Russell Foster and published in the Dec. 22, 2011, issue of The British Journal of Psychiatry, compared the sleep patterns of 20 diagnosed schizophrenics and 20 otherwise healthy individuals.

Over a six-week span, researchers monitored daily motor activity and exposure to light, as well as weekly melatonin levels. All of the schizophrenia patients had varying sleep patterns, required more time to fall asleep, and slept for longer periods of time.

The melatonin levels of the schizophrenics who participated in the study showed that 50 percent of the schizophrenia group had delayed sleep-wake cycles that were out of sync with the day-night sleep cycles of healthy participants. The other 50 percent of the schizophrenic patients in the study were more closely synchronized with the day-night cycle, but still demonstrated sleep irregularities.

While the study did not demonstrate a cause for the link between sleep disorders and schizophrenia, conditions such as cardiovascular disease and metabolic disorders are also common in both schizophrenics and those who suffer from sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea.

If you believe you suffer from the symptoms of sleep apnea or another sleep disorder, a dentist specializing in sleep disorders may be able to help you diagnose and treat the cause of your condition.

Please contact us to locate a qualified sleep disorder dentist near you.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Increased Sleep Apnea Awareness, Testing brings Rise in Insurance Spending

As awareness about the symptoms and risks of sleep apnea—particularly obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)—have increased, so has insurer spending on diagnosis and treatment.

According to a Jan. 16 National Public Radio (NPR) report that cites information from the Office of the Inspector General, Medicare payments for sleep testing skyrocketed from $62 million in 2001 to $235 million in 2009. Meanwhile, the number of accredited sleep disorder diagnosis labs has quadrupled over the past 10 years, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

While many health insurance policies cover sleep apnea testing and treatment, some insurers have expressed concern that a number of physicians are ordering sleep testing without basic exams first.

“We are spending more and more money on sleep testing and treatment, and like anything else in health care, there are unscrupulous people out there who are more than happy to do testing and treatment that might be of questionable value,” said Dr. Fred Holt, medical director of Blue Cross Blue Shield in North Carolina, in the NPR report.

Although insurance providers may not be happy about the rise in sometimes costly sleep apnea testing, sleep apnea can contribute to severe health complications if not treated. Among the potential dangers of sleep apnea are an increased risk for hypertension, heart disease, stroke, heart attack, diabetes, high blood pressure and depression among other health problems.

The National Institutes of Health currently estimates that more than 12 million Americans have a diagnosed form of sleep apnea, with millions of more Americans suffering from undiagnosed sleep apnea. The sheer volume of people who may have this dangerous sleep disorder is why many physicians who specialize in sleep apnea believe the costs are worth the tests necessary to diagnose the disorder and save lives.

“It’s just sad when you walk through the hospital and you see these patients with heart failure—the person might be 35 years old, he’s 350 pounds—but no one’s thinking that he has sleep apnea, which he statistically does,” said Dr. David Gross, medical director of the sleep lab at the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Washington, D.C., in the NPR story.

Fortunately, there are a number of effective sleep apnea treatment options.

If you believe you or a loved one suffer from the symptoms of sleep apnea, please contact a dentist near you who specializes in diagnosing and treating OSA and other sleep disorders.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

First FDA-Approved Wireless Home Sleep Apnea Test gets Spotlight at Electronics Show

The first wireless home test for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) to receive approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is currently being showcased at the annual International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Produced by NovaSom, the AccuSom home sleep test is designed to monitor symptoms of OSA, an underdiagnosed sleep disorder than can lead to severe health complications including an increased risk for heart attack, stroke and hypertension among other problems if not treated. Nearly 18 million Americans have OSA, and another 15 million are thought to have undiagnosed OSA.

The first FDA-approved wireless home sleep test, AccuSom is a roughly smart phone-size cardio-respiratory monitor that features a multichannel sensor to track the factors essential to accurate OSA diagnosis including:

  • Oxygen saturation
  • Pulse rate
  • Respiration airflow
  • Respiration effort
  • Snoring

AccuSom is capable of testing patients over multiple sleep cycles, which can more effectively identify the symptoms of OSA than one-night tests in sleep laboratories. The device collects then transfers your individual sleep data to a platform used by your physician for interpretation and diagnosis.

AccuSom requires a prescription from your physician. After being prescribed, the AccuSom unit is mailed directly to you and self-administered at home. The device uses voice prompts to steer you through the testing process.

Although NovaSom claims the AccuSom device is appropriate for approximately 80 percent of prospective sleep apnea patients, AccuSom may not be the best diagnostic tool for everyone. It is important to consult with a physician specializing in sleep apnea diagnosis and treatment if you believe you or a loved one suffers from sleep apnea symptoms.

To learn more about obstructive sleep apnea and sleep apnea treatment options, please contact a dentist near you who specializes in sleep disorders.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Researchers Collaborate on More Comfortable Device to Test for Sleep Apnea

There are a number of treatment options available for the various forms of sleep apnea, and most of them are more comfortable for sleep apnea sufferers than continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices, which have long been the standard.

Testing for sleep apnea, however, can be a cumbersome undertaking for patients, and it often involves wearing a harness, belts and a labyrinth of wires while also attempting to doze in a clinical setting. As Melvin Keierleber, who has sleep apnea and is employed by a sleep study facility, said in a Jan. 1 article about sleep apnea testing in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, “It’s not very conducive for sleep.”

But bioengineering researchers with the University of Texas at Arlington are working with the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas and the Fort Worth-based Sleep Consultants to design diagnostic equipment that is effective, comfortable and may be used at a patient’s home.

The team is preparing to test a portable device equipped with ultrasonic sensors, which are attached to a patient’s neck and monitor sound waves to determine whether the patient’s airway is open and how frequently breathing is interrupted. The device allows the patient to settle into his or her regular state of interrupted sleep patterns and can measure multiple sleep cycles.

If you or a loved one suffers from sleep apnea symptoms, please contact a dentist near you who specializes in diagnosing and treating sleep disorders.