Sleep Apnea Can be a Symptom of Something More Serious

11:55 AM, Oct 22, 2019
11:55 AM, Oct 22, 2019

Patient Choice Ultrasound and Thermography is now offering home sleep study kits. You may be asking yourself why a diagnostic imaging center is introducing sleep testing. The human body is kind of like the old children’s rhyme: “The knee bone is connected to the thigh bone.” There’s more of a correlation than one may think.

Nearly seven out of 10 Americans experience frequent sleep problems. Sleep problems and lack of sleep can affect everything from personal and work productivity to behavior and relationships.

Sleep apnea is one of the most common sleep disorders affecting approximately 20 million adults in the United States; an estimated 80 percent are undiagnosed. Many people are unaware a sleep disorder is the underlying cause of their health problems. Others may be aware but are uninformed about the severe consequences of untreated sleep apnea.

Some of the patients we see for cardiac conditions, such as hypertension, arrhythmia (abnormal heartbeat) and even heart failure and heart attacks actually have an underlying sleep disorder contributing to their cardiac disease. The same is true for vascular, renal, thyroid and multiple other diseases.

Individuals with sleep apnea are more likely to have heart attacks, heart failure, stroke, atherosclerosis and arrhythmia. It can make high blood pressure worse. After undergoing treatment for sleep apnea, most patients see improved blood pressure, allowing a reduction in their medications. Insufficient sleep can prevent the body from using insulin properly. A large percentage of those with type 2 diabetes have sleep apnea, and obesity increases a person’s risk
for both disorders. There is an increased risk for pancreatic, renal and skin cancers, autoimmune disorders, hypothyroidism, glaucoma and pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes or high blood pressure and delivery of an underweight baby. Sleep apnea can also worsen asthma and increase body inflammation. The cognitive and behavioral disorders from sleep apnea can result in memory loss or decreases in attention, vigilance, concentration, motor skills and verbal and visuospatial memory. It can lead to dementia in older adults and learning disabilities in children. There is also an increase in motor vehicle accidents as a direct result of sleep disorders.

Sleep apnea can be caused by a person’s physical structure or medical conditions. These include obesity, large tonsils, tumors in the upper airway, endocrine disorders, neuromuscular disorders, heart or kidney failure, certain genetic syndromes and premature birth.

Sleep apnea is characterized by frequent breaks or pauses in breathing during sleep, causing interruptions in the sleep pattern. Often the sufferer does not fully wake up and is unaware of the severity of their sleep disturbance. These interruptions to restful sleep cause powerful and dangerous effects within the body. Sleep apnea disrupts the way the body takes in oxygen and can affect circulation, which makes it hard for the brain to control how blood flows in the arteries and the brain itself. The death rate from all causes is higher in patients with moderate to severe sleep apnea.

Sleep studies for apnea are usually conducted at hospitals or sleep labs. Of the roughly 3.5 million sleep tests performed each year, about 80 percent can be done at home. Home sleep tests have become increasingly popular with patients, physicians and insurance companies over the past decade.

Home sleep tests are more convenient than having a sleep study in an unfamiliar lab. And it can take weeks to get an appointment. Patient Choice Ultrasound now offers convenient home sleep kits at a fraction of the cost. Your family doctor can order this examination directly through us. Once you have completed the test in your own home with the Alice Night One sleep kit and bring it back, PCU will upload your data to be interpreted. The recorded readings will be interpreted by sleep medicine specialist Pamela Combs, MD, FACP Diplomat, ABSM, ABIM/SM. A report will be sent to your physician within a few days.

If you have just one of these symptoms, you may benefit from a sleep study:
• sleepiness and fatigue that persists more than two to three weeks;

• napping;

• snoring;

• regular difficulty staying asleep at night;

• pauses in breathing or gasping for breath when sleeping; and

• feeling so tired when you wake up in the morning that you cannot function normally during the day.

Proper diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea or any other sleep disorder decreases the feeling of sleepiness and safety risks and improves memory. After a sleep study, an estimated 85 percent to 90 percent of patients get better sleep. We like to minimize the steps for patients by providing as close to a one-stop shop for your health care needs as possible. Now we can provide sleep kits for a comprehensive sleep study at a deep discount, just like everything we provide. Your family physician can provide the order and Patient Choice can provide the study at your convenience, seven days a week.

About the Author
With 40 years in the field of ultrasound, Kim Davis, RDMS, RDCS, RVS, is the founder and CEO of PCU, 152 W. Tiverton Way in Lexington. PCU can be reached at 859-554-7360 or at www.

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