New Study Uses Blood Tests to Screen for Sleep Apnea

Patients are commonly diagnosed with sleep apnea following when a sleep disorder specialist obtains a medical history and perform a physical exam. Affected patients commonly complain of habitual snoring and an inability to get quality sleep. They also have larger neck sizes and a smaller upper respiratory airway. Individuals suspected to have the disorder typically undergo a sleep study. However, recent research reveals that specific blood tests may hasten diagnosis and treatment.

 

Biomarker Study

 

The research involved 264 male adults from various locations. Blood samples were taken from each of the men and tested for various levels that included C-reactive protein, hemoglobin A1c and erythropoietin. Elevations in C-reactive protein, erythropoietin and hemoglobin A1c correlated with the presence and severity of obstructive sleep apnea. The lack of oxygen caused by apnea naturally increases erythropoietin levels.

 

The findings reveal that blood testing proved superior to traditional methods used for sleep apnea screening. The biomarkers also revealed that patients suffering from the disorder may or may not have symptoms. The blood tests were more accurate than body mass index determination, as half of all people suffering from sleep apnea are not overweight. By making blood tests part of the diagnostic regimen, sleep specialists may be better able to diagnose and treat patients based on the severity of the disorder.

 

Obstructive Sleep Apnea Treatment

 

Treatment methods are designed to ensure that the airway remains open when an affected individual sleeps. The proper mode of treatment eliminates symptoms and reduces the possibility of developing any of the medical conditions that may occur. Sleep specialists may prescribe a variety of therapies based on the severity of the disorder.

 

Continuous positive airway pressure or CPAP remains one of the more effective treatment options. The therapy involves wearing a CPAP mask, which is connected to tubing and a device that continually blows air into the passages.

 

Some apnea sufferers may be advised to change their sleep position. Sleeping on one side or the other helps keep the airway open during sleep. However, the tactic is not always effective.

 

An obese patient diagnosed with sleep apnea is often told to lose weight through changes in diet combined with an increase in physical activity. However, not all patients are able to maintain the weight loss.

 

Avoiding alcohol or medications designed to induce sleep are commonly discouraged. The substances may cause an excess of muscular relaxation, which leads to the obstruction.

 

Originally posted on AlexLucio.net on September 25, 2018

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Sleep Apnea Frequently Missed in Black Americans

Statistics indicate that nearly 42 million adults living in the United States live with sleep apnea. If not diagnosed and treated, the disorder often leads to an increased risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and other health issues. A study performed by researchers found that a large number of African-American adults live with sleep apnea that has not been diagnosed or treated.

 

Jackson Heart Sleep Study

 

The study involved 852 men and women of African-American descent for the project. The average age of the adults was 63. During the course of the sleep study, the researchers found 24 percent of the participants suffered from moderate to severe sleep apnea. The scientists also found that up to 15 percent of the sleep apnea sufferers were female. However, only five percent of the volunteers had been diagnosed by a health care provider. The data suggests that 95 percent of the people had the problem but were never diagnosed or treated.

 

The study revealed that the sleep apnea sufferers had chronic snoring problems. They also had an abnormally high body mass indexes and larger neck circumferences.

 

The director of the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research from the National Institutes of Health believes that the study’s findings were revealing. Although the data indicates that more research is necessary to further develop the programs needed to ensure that more African-Americans receive diagnosis and treatment for the disorder, this is a significant starting point. More research on the topic will make that possible in time, and the hope is that more research will allow doctors to diagnose more people who suffer from sleep apnea with more accuracy.

 

About Sleep Apnea

 

Sleep apnea is classified as either central or obstructive. Central apnea occurs secondary to abnormal breathing patterns. Obstructive apnea involves a narrowing of the airway, which closes off air intake through the throat. Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form of the disorder.

 

While asleep, the blockage causes an increase in carbon dioxide and a decrease of oxygen in the body. An individual may temporarily awaken to open the airway by engaging the upper respiratory muscles. They then typically take a number of deep breaths and fall back to sleep. Most do not remember the incident.

 

In either form of the disorder, affected individuals do not experience a restful sleep. They commonly feel unusually tired during the day without knowing the reason. The general fatigue can lead to an increased risk of becoming involved in an automotive accident. A loss of the ability to focus and concentrate also commonly affects work performance.

 

The Dangerous Consequences of Sleep Apnea

Snoring is annoying and can disrupt your sleep and your significant other’s as well. However, it can have even more severe consequences if you snore and suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep apnea increases your risk of developing dangerous health conditions. However, these problems can be curbed if you seek treatment for your sleep apnea.

What Health Problems Can Arise from Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

It’s important to know what health problems can arise if you have obstructive sleep apnea. These conditions include the following:

  • High Blood Pressure: Sleep apnea can increase your blood pressure. Additionally, if your blood pressure is already on the upper side, it can get worse with obstructive sleep apnea because your body is under stress while you sleep. When your breathing is not proper, the level of oxygen in your blood decreases.
  • Heart Disease: If you have obstructive sleep apnea, you are far more likely to suffer a heart attack. Low oxygen in your blood means your heart receives less oxygen as well. You also experience additional stress during sleep because of frequent waking.
  • Type 2 Diabetes: Around 80 percent of people who have obstructive sleep apnea also have type 2 diabetes. Additionally, being obese increases the risk of suffering from both conditions.
  • Weight Gain: If you have gained a considerable amount of weight, it can also raise your risk of developing sleep apnea. Sleep apnea also makes it more difficult to lose weight. Being overweight or obese means you have more fat in the neck area, which can obstruct your breathing while you sleep.
  • Asthma: Individuals who have obstructive sleep apnea are more likely to develop asthma, a chronic lung disease.
  • Acid Reflux: Many people who have sleep apnea claim to suffer from acid reflux as well.

Treatment for Sleep Apnea

If you suffer from sleep apnea, you should seek treatment. Many of the other medical conditions that can develop when you have obstructive sleep apnea can be reduced or eliminated with the right treatment.

One means of treatment your doctor may prescribe is the usage of a CPAP machine. CPAP stands for “continuous positive airway pressure.” It is fitted with a hose at the end of which there is a mask. You wear that mask during the night while you sleep and receive oxygen, which can help you to breathe better and can improve your condition overall.

Other forms of treatment include mouth appliances, nerve stimulators, and surgery. It’s important to consult with your doctor to determine which type of treatment is most appropriate for you.

About The Sleep 2017 Boston Conference

A conference on sleep was recently held in Boston, but over 5,000 medical doctors and others associated with the sleep industry did not have much time to take naps during the exciting conference. This was the 31st annual meeting put on jointly by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) and the Sleep Research Society (SRS). Participants heard from a range of speakers during this event along with getting introduced to new products by a wide variety of vendors. Everyone learned a lot during this June conference allowing them to go home and provide better care to their patients.

Participants had the choice of over 85 sessions that they could attend for continuing education credits. Some of the topics covered during sessions were EEG basics for sleep practitioners, the emerging relationship between cancer and sleep, treatment advances in insomnia care, how the need for sleep can be quantified, nightmare disorders and school start times and their effect on sleep.

One of the fascinating parts of the conference occurred during the lunch break each day. Doctors were encouraged to bring a brown bag lunch and visit with each other about their most perplexing cases. Each presenter had five minutes to present the case, and then the other doctors made suggestions on what they thought the doctor should try next.

Students in medical school also were invited to participate in the conference. They could choose to make an oral presentation on a facet of sleep medicine. Alternatively, they could share an educational poster they had constructed.

Attendees had a wide choice of housing available to them during this conference. The Sheraton Boston Hotel served as the headquarters hotel. They could also choose from five other hotels located within 0.5 miles of the Greater Boston Convention and Vistors Center.

While most participants were medical doctors with a special interest in sleep, medical students could also attend the conference. The two organizations also allowed a limited number of people attend from the press.

Plans are already being made for the 2018 conference from June 2 to 8 in Boston. Those registering by mid-April can get a discount. Participants also need to think about booking their rooms before May 1 to take advantage of very special rates during the 2018 conference. Since many of the keynote debates and speakers sold out, those interested in attending need to make their plans as far ahead as possible.