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RebeccaR

RebeccaR
Joined Dec 2016
Bio

On the MyApnea staff team working to improve the lives of sleep apnea patients

Boston, MA, USA

RebeccaR
Joined Dec 2016
Bio

On the MyApnea staff team working to improve the lives of sleep apnea patients

Boston, MA, USA

My understanding of the article is that the current way that sleep apnea is commonly diagnosed may not include people who have a dangerous level of apneas. Scientists are learning a lot more about complex factors that characterize Sleep Apnea (timing of AHIs, REM vs. non-REM sleep, oxygen desaturation, airway collapsability, arousal thresholds etc.).

They are also learning more about the epidemiology of sleep apnea and asking really important questions such as 'Are all patients with untreated sleep apnea at high risk for cardiovascular disease? or just some? If so, what characterizes the higher risk patients and how can we make sure they get the best treatment?'

So researchers are not looking for new diseases. Rather they are scrutinizing the way the disease has been diagnosed. They are exploring sleep data in new and more granular ways to see if we are actually capturing everyone who is at risk when we use traditional cut-offs (AHI>15).

According to this new research, it may be that AHI scores should be weighted to differentiate between apneas that happen during REM sleep vs. non-REM sleep, since there is growing evidence that sleep apneas during REM sleep are more strongly associated with cardiovascular risks AND women tend to have a large number of apneas during REM (according to the data in this study).

Does that make sense?

And yes Sierra- I agree that medicare and insurance companies drive treatment and changing those standards is hard. But, change is possible. And the field of sleep should at least work to define risky forms and levels of sleep apnea as accurately as possible (and hopefully understand which forms/levels are most dangerous and which are best suited to which treatment approaches). Then, we can start the work of convincing the insurance companies to get on board with the evidence-based definitions. And they might be easily convinced if the data shows that treating sleep apnea differently can save them $$$ down the line!