Snoring And Apnoea / Apnea Blog

Sleep Disorders & Pregnancy Risks

Posted on Mon, Sep 09, 2013

According to research on the pooled results from a number of recent studies, gestational hypertension and diabetes is much more common in women who experience sleep apnoea during pregnancy.

Gestational hypertension was found more than twice as often in women with sleep disordered breathing (SDB) conditions and gestational diabetes almost twice as often, compared against women without SDB during pregnancy. 

The pooled results of the studies also suggest low-birth-weight infants might be more common among women with sleep apnoea during pregnancy, according to Dr Sushmita Pamidi of McGill University in Montreal, when reporting to the American Thoracic Society international conference.

As many as a third of women report snoring during the third trimester of pregnancy. Common explanations include weight gain, oedema (swelling and fluid retention) and hormonal influences. 

Dr Pamidi and his colleagues undertook a thorough review of 31 previous studies to determine whether there was a link between SDB and pregnancy outcomes. All studies found an adverse link between sleep apnoea and gestational hypertension, sleep apnoea and gestational diabetes and, to a lesser extent, sleep apnoea and low birth weights. 

According to Dr Pamidi, "I think we have learned that there are associations between sleep apnea and gestational diabetes and gestational hypertension, and, to a smaller degree, perhaps to low-birth-weight infants."   He went on to point out, "The main limitation is that most of the studies are small.  Nonetheless, we were able to find a signal, which is a good impetus for having larger trials and bigger cohort studies.”

Tags: sleep apnoea, Pregnancy

Females With Sleep Apnoea Suffer Worse Brain Damage Than Men

Posted on Thu, Dec 06, 2012

Bad news for women who suffer from sleep apnoea.  According to a study conducted by researchers at the UCLA School of Nursing, women with sleep apnoea experience a higher degree of brain damage than men with sleep apnoea.  The findings are reported in the December 2012 issue of the peer-reviewed journal, ‘SLEEP’.

It has long been known that obstructive sleep apnoea is a serious ‘sleep disordered breathing’ condition.  While the sufferer sleeps, the airway is blocked by soft tissue (such as the tongue, soft palate, uvula and/or pharyngeal wall) collapsing across it.  Breathing stops for at least 10 seconds, more commonly much longer, before the body momentarily wakes and starts breathing again.  (The sufferer is usually unaware of waking and has no recollection of doing so the next morning.)    These breathing stoppages and arousals can happen hundreds of times per night. 

During each ‘apnoeic event’ the oxygen level in the blood drops, damaging cells and leading to adverse physiological changes throughout the body.  Left untreated, it can lead to hypertension, stroke, heart failure, diabetes, depression and other serious health problems.

For this multi-year study, "Sex Differences in White Matter Alterations Accompanying Obstructive Sleep Apnea," the researchers looked at patients who were diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnoea.  Comparison of the ‘white matter’ or nerve fibres in these patients' brains against the white matter of patients without sleep problems lead to a significant discovery about the difference in brain damage between men and women with sleep apnoea.

"While there are a great many brain studies done on sleep apnea and the impact on one's health, they have typically focused on men or combined groups of men and women, but we know that obstructive sleep apnea affects women very differently than men," said chief investigator Paul Macey, from the UCLA School of Nursing. "This study revealed that, in fact, women are more affected by sleep apnea than are men and that women with obstructive sleep apnea have more severe brain damage than men suffering from a similar condition."

In particular, the study found that women were impacted in areas at the front of the brain (the cingulum bundle and the anterior cingulate cortex) which are involved in decision-making and mood regulation. The women with sleep apnoea also showed higher levels of depression and anxiety symptoms, the researchers said.

"This tells us that doctors should consider that the sleep disorder may be more problematic and therefore need earlier treatment in women than men," Macey said.

This is just one more reason, in a long list of reasons, why it is vital sleep apnoea sufferers are treated.  If you think you might have a sleep disordered breathing condition, or know someone who does, get in touch with us on 07 3218 2127, or click on the button below and we'll be happy to help.

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Tags: sleep apnoea women, sleep apnoea brain damage, sleep apnoea female

Sleep More Valuable Than Painkillers

Posted on Mon, Dec 03, 2012

Just two hours extra sleep per night can significantly reduce a person’s sensitivity to pain, according to a new study.

The findings, published in the journal ‘Sleep’, also revealed the effect was greater than was seen in a previous study where volunteers were given 60mg of codeine. 

Researchers studied 18 volunteers over four nights and found that those who slept for 10 hours were able to keep their finger on a heat source for 25 seconds longer than those who had eight hours or fewer.

The results, combined with data from previous research, suggest increased pain sensitivity in tired people is the result of their underlying sleepiness.

Dr Timothy Roehrs, of Henry Ford Hospital in the United States, said: "Our results suggest the importance of adequate sleep in various chronic pain conditions or in preparation for elective surgical procedures.

"We were surprised by the magnitude of the reduction in pain sensitivity, when compared to the reduction produced by taking codeine."

Researchers say this study suggests extended and good quality sleep reduces one's sensitivity to pain.  On the other hand, sleep deprivation increases an individual's sensitivity. 

Yet another good reason to give your sleep a high priority.

If you suffer from a sleep disorder or know someone who does, arrange a diagnostic sleep study (polysomnogram) to determine the nature and severity of the condition.  Call on 07) 3218 2127 or click below to talk with a friendly treatment coordinator.

Tags: Sleep and pain, sleep duration, sleep deprivation

Obstructive Sleep Apnoea and Cancer

Posted on Tue, Nov 27, 2012

Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) has now been linked to the development of cancer in men younger than age 65, although the researchers acknowledge the relatively small number of people in the study may have distorted the statistics.  The worrying findings of the study seem to be limited to men younger than 65 years, although the incidence of OSA related cancer in women and those over 65 could simply be because of the relatively small size of the study.

They researchers do say, and we agree, that the associations which were discovered are worthy of further study.  Especially when you look at the likely cause and effect...

The study, published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine,  analysed 4,910 individuals who were assessed for suspected OSA.  These people were then followed for 4.5 years.

"We found an increased cancer incidence (i.e., occurrence of a new cancer) in OSA patients exhibiting nocturnal hypoxia, as compared with those who did not experience nocturnal hypoxia,” said Dr Campos-Rodríguez, the lead researcher.

This is bad news for untreated OSA sufferers.  Hypoxia is the technical term for unhealthily / dangerously low blood oxygen levels.  It is one of the most specific indicators for OSA, because people with untreated OSA frequently stop breathing hundreds of times per night, for as much as a couple of minutes at a time while asleep.  Blood oxygen levels plummet as a result.

As a rough guideline, healthy people in normal conditions have oxygen saturation levels of between 96% and 99%.  We have seen OSA sufferers with blood oxygen levels as low as 58%.  At that level, their mental function is seriously impaired and, frankly, it’s a miracle they are conscious.

The point being, hypoxia reportedly plays an important role in tumour formation and progression, says Dr Francisco Campos-Rodríguez, of the Sleep-Disordered Breathing Unit at Hospital de Valme, Sevilla, Spain.

He also noted that a recent study showed that when mice were subjected to an intermittent hypoxia pattern mimicking OSA, the growth rate of melanoma tumours was twice that in control animals who were not subjected to hypoxia. The mice subjected to intermittent hypoxia also showed more pulmonary metastases (spread of disease) than the control group.

These findings prompted the researchers to perform a multicenter study in a large sleep cohort to investigate whether OSA is associated with increased cancer incidence in humans.

It appears that the longer a person lives with low night time oxygen levels, the greater the risk of developing a cancer.  "For example," Dr Campos-Rodríguez said, "compared with patients who spent <12% of the night time with low oxygen levels, those who spent >12% of the time with low oxygen levels (oxygen saturation of less than 90%) had more than twice the risk of having a cancer during the follow-up period."

More work, they say, is needed to investigate whether a specific cancer location or subtype is more likely to be associated with OSA and the potential role of continuous positive airway treatment (CPAP) in this relationship.

"CPAP is the treatment of choice for OSA patients. This treatment avoids upper airway collapse and its consequences, including intermittent hypoxia. Unfortunately, we did not assess the effect of CPAP treatment in our cohort," Dr Campos-Rodríguez said. "Therefore, although one may speculate that if CPAP avoids intermittent hypoxia associated with OSA, it would possibly have a protective effect against this outcome, whether CPAP reduces cancer incidence in OSA patients needs to be investigated."

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Tags: Obstructive Sleep Apnoea and Cancer

A Hidden Epidemic. And YOU Know Someone Who's Affected.

Posted on Wed, Nov 07, 2012

We are all living through what medical literature refers to as 'a hidden epidemic'.  This epidemic affects both genders, all ages, and all body shapes, from lean to obese.  One in every three adults suffer from a significant form of this condition -- yet most people blithely ignore the condition, thinking it's normal.

The condition in question is 'sleep disordered breathing' (SDB).  This term covers a wide range of ailments, from simple snoring through to severe obstructive sleep apnoea, where the sufferer literally stops breathing while asleep. 

All forms of the condition are harmful, to varying degrees.  Even simple snoring, which everyone tends to joke and tease about, is actually a loud, clear signal that the airflow is impaired.  This is NEVER a good thing. 

Countless studies have found clear links between sleep disordered breathing and a wide range of negative consequences and co-morbidities, including hypertension (high blood pressure), heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, metabolic retardation and conseqenent weight gain / obesity, acid reflux, loss of libido, impotence, waking tiredness, daytime sleepiness, and reduced cognitive ability. 

Excellent treatments are available, and diagnostic sleep studies no longer need to be performed in hospital or sleep lab environments.  (These studies monitor the patient's breathing patterns and stoppages, brain activity, cardiac activity, sleeping position, blood oxygen levels, limb movements ... and much more, all while the patient sleeps.  Portable diagnostic equipment means the sleep study can now be performed in the comfort, privacy and convenience of the patient's own bedroom.

If you snore or suffer from the side effects listed above, or if you know someone who does, then take action.  Snoring might be common, but it is NOT normal and is probably a sign of a more serious underlying condition. 

Call us on (07) 3218 2127 for more information or to chat with a friendly sleep therapist.

Tags: snoring, sleep disordered breathing, hidden epidemic, apnoea

Belly Fat Linked To Sleep Disorders

Posted on Wed, Nov 07, 2012

Numerous studies have found poor quality sleep leads to overeating and physiological changes that lead to heart disease, obesity, depression and Type 2 diabetes.  The ‘tricky’ part is that inadequate sleep actually disrupts the body’s balance and stimulates the appetite ... which leads to greater weight gain and consequently greater risks.  The good news is that the latest studies suggest a two way relationship between sleep disorders and weight gain – meaning improved sleep can help you lose weight, and losing weight can help you sleep better.

Independent scientific studies have consistently founds that sleep disorders are clearly linked to obesity and heavier individuals tend to report more problems getting a good night’s sleep.

Now, in a new study just released by researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. It has been reported that weight loss, either through diet or a combination of diet and exercise, can lead to better sleep.

The researchers followed 77 overweight or obese individuals with type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes over a 6 month period. At the start and end of the study, the participants completed surveys detailing their sleep problems such as sleep apn0ea, fatigue, insomnia, restless sleep, excessive sleep and use of sedatives.   Each participant’s body mass index (BMI) was also recorded so weight changes could be tracked.

The participants were then separated into two groups. The first group went on a weight-loss diet with exercise training and the second group simply stuck to a diet program.

At the end of the six months, both groups experienced a weight loss of about 15 pounds on average and a 15% reduction in belly fat. The researchers also authors found both groups had improved their sleep quality by about 20%.

“The key ingredient for improved sleep quality from our study was a reduction in overall body fat, and, in particular belly fat, which was true no matter the age or gender of the participants or whether the weight loss came from diet alone or diet plus exercise,” said study author Kerry Stewart, a professor of medicine at John Hopkins in a statement.

According to Stewart, belly fat is particularly concerning since it can be metabolically detrimental to health. “Belly fat is almost like a living organ. It produces proteins that cause inflammation,” says Stewart. “When you lose a lot of belly fat in particular, the level of those substances go way down and the inflammatory response is much less than it was before.”

"That means that rates of heart disease may decline as belly fat dissolves. Inflammation aggravates blood vessels, which can increase heart disease risk, and also  interfere more generally with the body’s normal physiological processes. The end result is obesity, and obesity in turn puts added mechanical pressure on the heart and lungs. “If you have a lot of belly fat, the lungs can’t expand as well, so it becomes harder to breathe when you’re sleeping, which is why more people get sleep apnoea,” says Stewart. “When you have sleep apnoea, you wake up more in the middle of the night and that leads to daytime sleepiness and fatigue. So people are feeling miserable because they haven’t had a good nights sleep.”

Shedding extra weight and increasing physical activity triggers a drop in inflammation, lowers insulin resistance and improves metabolism. “This can foster weight loss or prevent further weight gain,” says Stewart.

Whether sleep disorders cause obesity, or obesity causes sleep disorders isn’t clear, although it’s likely  both processes are at work simultaneously. “We are not exactly sure where the problem starts, but we think it is a vicious cycle. Regardless of where it starts, they feed off each other,” says Stewart.

If you are struggling to lose weight, it may be that an underlying sleep disorder like sleep apnoea is part of the problem.  If you are overweight, snoring, waking tired, and feeling sleepy through the day it is almost certain that you have an underlying sleep disordered breathing (SDB) condition.  Treatment of the SDB can help re-start the metabolism and reduce the risks associated with obesity.

If you think you have some sort of sleep disorder, give us a call on (07) 3218 2127 to talk things over with a friendly sleep therapist ... or request a sleep study online by clicking the button below.

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Tags: apnoea, sleep disorders, weight gain, obesity, belly fat

Sleep Apnoea Treatment Leads To Cost Savings

Posted on Fri, Nov 02, 2012

As if there weren’t enough health reasons to justify getting treatment for sleep apnoea ... there is now evidence that it leads to higher health care expenditures and lower productivity rates in the workforce.   These findings were presented recently at the 2012 American Sleep Apnea Association (ASAA) conference.

According to the authors of the report, employers who screen their workers and help with their treatment will be rewarded by vast improvements in worker productivity and lower health care costs.

“Sleep apnea has a serious impact on health, safety, and quality of life”, said Los Angeles Sleep Study Institute’s Dr. Dan Naim.  “Although sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder which can lead to or worsen chronic conditions, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and stroke, it is under-diagnosed,” said Dr. Naim. “Up to 90 percent of those afflicted with sleep apnea don’t know they have it and don’t remember waking up to gasp for air in the middle of the night, even if it happens dozens of times.”

ASAA Executive Director Edward Grandi pointed out that, apart from the health risks, the economic costs of sleep apnea are huge.  Recent research from Harvard Medical School’s Sleep Medicine Division estimates there are between $67 billion and $165 billion in annual costs directly related to sleep apnoea.  This figure relates to the USA alone.  The estimates include money lost from decreased productivity, traffic accidents related to fatigue, and health care expenditures.   

The cost of diagnosis and treatment of obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is small when compared with the overall estimated economic burden of the disease. Harvard’s estimated cost to diagnose and treat moderate to severe OSA is estimated to be somewhere between $2 billion and $10 billion per year, again only in the US. 

“Employers should view the cost of diagnosing and treating OSA as an investment that will produce significant savings in health insurance spending and significant increases in employee productivity. Moreover, it will enhance the safety and general well-being of the workforce,” said Grandi. “The consequences of untreated OSA can be subtle, like people showing up to work fatigued and being unproductive, or really dramatic, like truck drivers falling asleep at the wheel and killing people, which results in multimillion dollar lawsuits.”

Grandi recommended that employers begin a screening program for their workers, particularly in those professions in which there is a high prevalence of sleep apnoea, such as trucking. Truck drivers are considered to be at a higher risk compared to the rest of the population because many drivers are middle-aged males working odd hours, making them even more likely to be sleepy. Those considered at the highest risk of sleep apnoea development are male, over age 40, and obese, although anyone can have the disorder, including children.

If you suspect you have sleep apnoea, the solution starts with a diagnostic sleep study (polysomnogram).  Using modern, portable diagnostic technology, this can now be done in the privacy, comfort and convenience of the patient’s own home – much cheaper and usually much sooner than would be the case if the study was being performed in a sleep lab or hospital based clinical environment.  For more information about getting a sleep study, click the button below or call (07) 3218 2127 to speak with a friendly sleep therapist.  Don’t delay, we’re here to help – and your apnoea is getting worse all the time.

 

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Tags: Sleep Apnoea Treatment Leads To Cost Savings

Sleep Clinic Services Now On Facebook

Posted on Mon, Oct 29, 2012

Actually, we've been on Facebook for a while ... but it's been a dry site with only medical literature posts talking about the diagnosis, treatment and consequences of snoring and sleep apnoea.  They might have been informative and educational articles, but they're nothing like the way we talk to our patients ... so we're taking a much more personal approach to FB from here on.

You can show your support for this new approach by visiting www.facebook.com/sleepclinicservices and engaging in one of our conversations.  Please help us grow by clicking on the 'Like' button while you're there.

Our Facebook friends will get exclusive access to special offers and competitions, with a range of valuable prizes.  Click on the link and 'Like' us now! 

Tags: facebook snoring, facebook apnoea

Apnoea Research Funded By Australian Government

Posted on Wed, Oct 24, 2012

The following press release excerpt is from the office of the Minister for Health, the Hon Tanya Plibersek.  

"Minister for Health Highlights the Potential Serious Consequences of Sleep Apnoea in Children"

As part of the NHMRC funding announcements made on Friday October 19, the Minister for Health the Hon Tanya Plibersek toured the laboratory of Professor Karen Waters of the University of Sydney who received a $990,000 grant to undertake research on young children suffering from sleep apnoea.

Ms Plibersek stated:  “Every parent knows what it’s like when children have difficulty sleeping, but having a child with sleep apnoea, who isn’t breathing properly at night, is a very serious problem.”

“This important research will look at the relationship between sleep apnoea, which affects about one in 30 children, and intelligence and learning.”

For a full report of the NHMRC media release see: http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/media/releases/2012/652-million-boost-best-and-brightest-medical-researchers

As many as 45% of children have been reported to have one or more sleep problems. If left untreated, sleep disorders may have deleterious effects on a child’s development and negatively affect other family members. For further information on childhood sleep disorders see: http://theconversation.edu.au/explainer-childhood-sleep-disorders-7271

Tags: apnoea government funding, funding apnoea research

Home Sleep Studies. Recommended For And Preferred By Patients

Posted on Tue, Oct 23, 2012

Over the past decade, countless studies have linked sleep disorders to a wide range of serious consequences, including cardiovascular disease, hypertension, congestic heart failure, stroke, diabetes ... and more. 

The effects of sleep-disordered breathing are known to have a cumulative and negative effect on multiple organs in the body, taking a toll on the heart, lungs, kidneys and brain. In the past it was difficult and expensive to get diagnosed and treated for sleep disordered breathing.   The foreign and uncomfortable environment of the sleep labs, and the high price traditionally linked to diagnosis through a lab may soon be a thing of the past.

Most sleep physicians that require you to check into a traditional hospital or Sleep Laboratory overnight for a full polysomnogram (PSG).  One wonders whether this is strictly necessary in the majority of cases, or simply a reflection of the fact that many sleep labs are owned by the sleep physicians who refer patients to them.

The simple fact is a small portable device can achieve virtually the same results, while in a comfortable and natural environment for the patient:  namely, their own bedroom.  This simply and more appealing approach saves time and money, getting the patient tested, treated, and back to work sooner.  Patients who have experienced both methods, vote unanimously for the at-home sleep study option.

Lab or hospital based studies should still be used for patients who present with potentially complex sleep issues and known cardiac conditions. However, portable testing is rapidly growing in use and stature as physicians recognise it as an equally accurate method of diagnosis of sleep apnea for groups who have been pre-screened and are known to be at risk for sleep apnea. A very high percentage of patients do not need any further testing after one night with a 10 channel in-home diagnostic recorder, such as we use. This raises the question:  “Why perform the most expensive test first? Especially if it is very likely you will never need the more expensive test?”

Portable testing is far more flexible, more convenient for the patient, less expensive, and far less likely to cause testing delays common to sleep labs, and hospitals. In some cases, sleep labs can require three to four week wait times, while ambulatory testing is can be performed immediately.

The bottom line is, patients have a choice.  Just because a doctor has referred you to a sleep laboratory or hospital based unit this does not mean you are compelled to have your diagnostic sleep study done there.  If you would prefer a home-based sleep study performed in the comfort and privacy of your own home, simply call us on (07) 3218 2127 for a free, no obligation chat with one of our friendly treatment coordinators.  Alternatively, you can make an enquiry online by clicking the button below.

Either way, we look forward to helping you with any questions you might have.  That's what we're here for.  :-)  

 

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Tags: home based preferred, home based recommended