Q What is sleep apnea?
A Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder characterized by loud and/ or irregular snoring, with stopping or pauses in breathing during sleep. An individual may wake from sleep gasping or choking, experience restless sleep and likely be sleepy during the day. Sleep apnea affects up to 15 percent of men and 5 percent of women age 30 to 60, and as high as 70 percent of men and 56 percent of women over age 65. Unfortunately, 80 to 85 percent of sufferers go undiagnosed.
Q What are the health consequences if left untreated?
A In addition to sleepiness during the day, individuals suffering from sleep apnea may have difficulty managing hypertension and are at greater risk for heart attack, heart disease, stroke, heart failure, depression and fatigue-related motor vehicle accidents.
Q How is sleep apnea diagnosed?
A Generally, a patient stays overnight in a hotel-style room for testing, attached to approximately 25 recording electrodes to record sleep pattern, breathing, heart rhythm, oxygen levels, limb movement and to begin therapy if needed. The patient is evaluated for sleep apnea and any other potential sleep disorder. A technologist is available to assist with the entire process.
Q How is sleep apnea treated?
A Sleep apnea is typically treated with CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) therapy, dental appliance, various surgical procedures in addition to diet/weight loss. CPAP therapy is the most common, simply because it is the most effective. Historically, a CPAP device has had the stigma of being noisy, bulky and difficult to use, but improvements over the last few years have made them very quiet, easy to transport and available with new mask options.
Q Is there an alternative to an overnight stay for testing?
A Although most patients benefit from a thorough overnight evaluation to test for all potential sleep disorders, some may be candidates for home sleep apnea testing (HST). HST is now available through the Ridgeview Sleep Disorders Center, but patients are first evaluated by a sleep specialist and determined to have a high likelihood of significant sleep apnea and no other sleep disorders. With HST, an individual is instructed on how to use a device in their own home by applying six separate electrodes to record breathing patterns, heart rhythm and oxygen levels. The device is then returned to the sleep center to review the recorded information. Home sleep testing is a desirable alternative because it can be completed at about 25 percent the cost of testing in a sleep lab.
Q Will my insurance cover sleep testing?
A Although medical insurers may cover one or both alternatives, it is always prudent to check with your insurer first, before completing a sleep test in either setting. Some major insurers consider HST investigative and do not provide coverage.
Q How can I get a home sleep test?
Currently, home sleep tests are recommended only for adults who have been screened by a sleep specialist and determined to have a high likelihood of having moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea, and who have no other significant medical conditions. If you are concerned about your sleep and would like to know if you are eligible for a home sleep test, please schedule a sleep consultation.