Obstructive sleep apnoea occurs when the upper airway collapses during sleep, resulting in a lack of oxygen in the blood. Episodes are usually repetitive and followed by a degree of wakening to breathe. Patients usually are loud snorers (but not necessarily) who have periods of silence, terminated by gasps and moans.
Sufferers are often excessively drowsy and fatigued during the day.
Increasingly, it is being realised that sleep apnoea can lead to serious health problems, including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and atrial fibrillation. It is also associated with a higher rate of vehicle and work accidents.
The diagnosis is made by undergoing 'sleep studies', which until recently had to be performed in a sleep laboratory. Portable equipment, allowing the same studies to be performed in the patients home, is now available.
St Agnes Surgery, through Healthy Workplace Solutions, is now able to arrange home sleep studies - the equipment is fitted by one of our nurses at the St Agnes Medical Centre and returned the following day.
Patients with proven, significant sleep apnoea can then be offered appropriate interventions by their doctor.
Sleep apnoea is aggravated by being overweight, smoking, drinking alcohol in the evenings and taking sleeping medications.
If you feel that you may have obstructive sleep apnoea ask your doctor about having a sleep study performed.