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Question about sleep study

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WarmheartedRoseGuanaco1057 +1 point · almost 8 years ago Original Poster

Good Evening,

I have a question. My husband had a sleep study done a month ago and we got the report the other day. He is on 2 liters of oxygen 24 hours per day for COPD and because his O2 levels drop at night. During the sleep study, they placed him on 1 liter before sleep then removed it when he fell asleep. They then reported that he was hypoxic and has mild to severe sleep apnea. Mild to severe? What is that?

Thats not my question...sorry. My question is...how on earth can they report that he is hypoxic and has sleep apnea when they did not study him as he sleeps normally. We know he gets hypoxic at night thus the reason for the oxygen! So take it away and that occurs. So how can they possibly claim that he has apnea when they created a sleep environment exact opposite of his true one?

I have a serious problem with this and I was just wondering if anyone could give any insight. I want him to get the best treatment but I also want it to be correct and for him not to have to wear any more equipment than is necessary when he sleeps.

Thank you! Angela

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DanM +2 points · almost 8 years ago Sleep Enthusiast Support Team

Hi Angela. Good questions, and I hope I can help answer them. For patients who go for a sleep study and are already on oxygen, it is normal to remove the oxygen to get a true "baseline" reading of the O2 levels. It also helps determine whether oxygen requirements have changed (does he need less, more, etc.). Also, sleep apnea can be completely independent of his COPD and hypoxemia issues and is a completely different diagnosis, and oxygen will not treat the sleep apnea. The obstructions that occur with sleep apnea can contribute to poor oxygenation levels, and they can contribute to the worsening of other health conditions. Research has show us that patients with sleep apnea are more likely to have high blood pressure, other heart conditions, and that sleep apnea is associated with diabetes. For some patients, even those with underlying COPD, treating the sleep apnea can sometimes improve blood oxygen levels and eliminate the need for oxygen at night. For others who may have more severe COPD, oxygen may be used in combination with CPAP (or other types of PAP treatment) to help treat both the sleep apnea and the hypoxemia.

I am not sure why they called your husband's sleep apnea "mild to severe" unless he has distinct periods when his apnea is mild and then times when his apnea is severe. Mild sleep apnea is usually diagnosed when a person has somewhere between 5 and 15 events per hour, and severe sleep apnea is when there are more than 30 events per hour. Some patients can have mild sleep apnea when they are on their side and not in REM sleep, for example. However, apnea may become severe when the patient sleeps on their back or is in REM sleep. I encourage you to speak to his physician and ask for an explanation of his diagnosis. Your physician should also be able to explain why it is important to treat sleep apnea in addition to the low blood oxygen levels, but we are always happy to try and answer questions too! Hope this helps, and best wishes!

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wiredgeorge +2 points · almost 8 years ago Sleep Enthusiast

Dan hit the nail on the head Angela! Need to talk to the doc who prescribed the sleep study to understand how the O2 issue AND apnea merge. I did a google search and this came up:


I was just curious about the plumbing aspect but it seems the issue of COPD/oxygen and sleep apnea are not uncommon. Keep digging and I bet with some time, you will understand the hows and whys of the sleep study and how to best interpret them.

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