Obstructive Sleep Apnea CPAP get smart fast

Disclaimer: These peer coaching articles describe what some savvy, successful CPAP users have done to make their treatment successful. Not written by healthcare professionals. The information and opinions may not necessarily be correct or helpful for you and your unique needs. Rely on sound, well informed medical advice from your doctors and other healthcare professionals well versed in treatment of obstructive sleep apnea.

Location: United States

IF I ONLY KNEW THEN WHAT I KNOW NOW! Blog Purpose: To help you with your CPAP therapy for Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). For those with OSA, family, friends, physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, sleep technicians. Why This Came to Be: I didn’t have the information I needed for successful CPAP treatment when I needed it. A kind sleep lab technician with OSA told me about a web site he had heard about from another patient, www.cpaptalk.com. The rest is history. It took me months of reading hundreds of posts to gather the information I needed while suffering through equipment struggles. Not everyone has that time or wants to struggle needlessly. I wrote up my own experience and advice from the collective wisdom of experienced CPAP users on cpaptalk.com. Thanks to them, my treatment is working. I’m not sure I could have done it without them. The online CPAP equipment store www.cpap.com created cpaptalk.com. I appreciate what they are giving back to the CPAP community through their website forum, as well as their fair prices. NOBODY IS AS SMART AS EVERYBODY! To email me, send a private message to Mile High Sleeper at www.cpaptalk.com.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sleep Study and Alternatives

For people exploring sleep apnea and for their healthcare professionals, peer coaching article #3, updated 22 November 2011

Sleep Study Options
An overnight sleep study in a sleep lab is the gold standard of diagnosis. It’s a very sophisticated way of testing for sleep apnea – obstructive (the most common kind), central (more rare), or mixed or complex (both kinds) – by checking airflow in your throat, snoring, and the effort your chest makes to breathe in various positions and in different stages of sleep. A lab study may also check for Restless Leg Syndrome, the amount of oxygen in your blood, and your heart rate and rhythm. If your doctor orders a sleep study, insurance or Medicare should pay for it. A split night sleep study may cost between $1,500 and $5,000. Check your insurance coverage and whether pre-approval is necessary..

1. In the most common, one-night “split study,” half the night is spent measuring your sleep, creating a polysomnogram (PSG) which is later interpreted by a physician. If you seem to have Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), the second half of the night is spent using a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine to find the best airflow pressure setting for you.

Advantages of a split study: lower cost, since it’s only one night. If the sleep technician gives you a mask, you get fast feedback in the middle of the night that you most likely have OSA. Later, upon receiving the report, you have a pressure setting for a doctor’s prescription for a CPAP machine.

Disadvantages: if you have concerns about falling asleep in a lab setting, or worry about wearing a respiratory mask for the first time, you may not fall asleep or have poor quality sleep, resulting in an inconclusive outcome or poor study. The sleep technician has less time to record your sleep cycles to do the sleep study and less time to find an effective titration setting, a slow trial-and-error process which requires your sleep.

2. A second option is a two-night study. It’s the same process as a split study, but a full night is used for each part. The first night is a baseline study of your sleep. The second night is a titration study to establish a CPAP pressure setting.

Advantages of a two-night study: Alleviates mask fear on the first night since no mask is needed, supporting better sleep and a better study. The technician has plenty of time to record sleep cycles and on the second night, plenty of time to try various pressure settings during the titration.

Disadvantages: may be twice the cost of a split study. It will take additional time to schedule the second study and get a pressure setting, which could delay the start of treatment.

3. An unusual alternative third option is a single baseline study and use of an APAP machine instead of a titration study to determine pressure settings. After a baseline study report of OSA (the first night), if CPAP seems to be the best treatment, and if you are a candidate for an APAP (an Auto-titrating Positive Airway Pressure) machine, you can get a prescription and machine long before a second night study. In fact, with an APAP machine and software and helpful doctor, it may not be necessary to have a second titration study. The APAP machine can be used to determine pressure settings instead of sleep lab titration.
American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Can Patients with Obstructive Sleep Apnea Titrate Their Own Continuous Positive Airway Pressure?
http://ajrccm.atsjournals.org/cgi/content/full/167/5/716 Quote: Home self-titration of CPAP is as effective as in-laboratory manual titration in the management of patients with OSA.
Advantages of a baseline study and APAP: lower cost, since it’s only one night. Alleviates mask fear during the study since no mask is needed, supporting better sleep and a better study. The technician has plenty of time to record your sleep cycles. If you do require a second night titration study, it can still be done later. Requirements: 1) the physician’s decision about the efficacy of APAP machine auto-titration settings instead of sleep lab titration. 2) use of an APAP machine able to record daily details, machine setup manual, and software. 3) physician and patient experimentation to find optimal pressure settings. 4) frequent software downloads by the patient (or a cooperative Durable Medical Equipment provider, DME). Remember, the sleep lab results are the gold standard, held to be the most effective means of determining CPAP machine pressure settings. The questionable trade-off may be better sleep lab equipment versus better patient comfort and resultant sleep in their own bed, and the ability to trial various pressure settings over several nights.
The deciding factors among the sleep study options may be a combination of your medical and psychological needs, your physician’s advice and support, and your insurance or Medicare coverage or your ability to pay out-of-pocket for APAP machine software. Discuss your needs with your physician and find out what your insurance company or Medicare supports and requires. Insurance companies tend to pay for a sleep study and CPAP equipment, because it’s more cost effective than paying for treatment of heart failure or stroke, treatment of car wreck injuries, and other serious health conditions resulting from untreated sleep apnea. Medicare usually requires a sleep study before paying for CPAP equipment. Does your insurance company have the same requirement? What impact do your deductible and co-pay have on your costs for various options? If possible, it may be more expedient to avoid scheduling your sleep study during the last quarter of the year, since the sleep lab may be overly busy then because people wait to schedule testing until they have reached their calendar year insurance deductible. However, if sleep apnea is suspected, it’s best to be tested and get your equipment as soon as possible.
Sleep Study Results
Know these three simple definitions from the sleep study report:
Apnea. The Greek word “apnea” means “without breath.” You stop breathing during sleep for ten seconds or longer.

Hypopnea. There is airflow through your throat but at a much reduced level, which leads to not getting enough oxygen. It’s abnormally shallow breathing lasting at least ten seconds.

AHI, Apnea-Hypopnea Index for Sleep Apnea:
Less than 5 events (apnea or hypopnea) per hour is considered normal.

5 or more events per hour is considered Mild sleep apnea
15+ considered Moderate
30+ considered Severe
(from T. S. Johnson MD, Sleep Apnea - The Phantom of the Night, page 211)

The AHI doesn’t tell the whole story. A person may have a low AHI but severe sleep apnea. The duration of events and degree of oxygen desaturation are also important.

A sleep study uses a pulse oximeter, a device with a red light that clips on your finger. It measures oxygen levels in your blood by noting the color; oxygenated blood is bright red, blood with hemoglobin desaturation is darker red. A pulse oximeter alone may detect severe sleep apnea, but is not reliable in less severe cases.

Get a copy of your sleep study report. You can refer to it from time to time as you manage your treatment. If you visit a specialist (sleep doctor, Ear/Nose/Throat doctor, pulmonologist, cardiologist, eye specialist, allergist, surgeon, dentist, etc.), give them a copy of your sleep study.

KNOW YOUR NUMBERS. Know your AHI, Apnea Hypopnea Index. This is a key number, like knowing your height, weight, blood pressure, or cholesterol level. Sleep apnea treatment (a dental device, pillar technique, CPAP machine) may differ depending on the severity of the sleep apnea.
Comprehensive Sleep Lab Orientation in Print
There are two chapters on sleep testing and understanding your report in the book Sleep Apnea – The Phantom of the Night by TS Johnson MD et al.

Short Sleep Lab Orientation Online Video

View a video and learn more at http://www.cpap.com/cpap-faq/Sleep-Study.html

Tips for Wearing a Mask for the First Time During the Sleep Study
Expect elaborate headgear, face straps, and stiff, bulky plastic nose pieces that make you look like an astronaut. While the sleep technician puts the mask on you, breathe through your mouth. Before you are hooked up to the CPAP machine, ask the technician to let you feel the airflow from the hose on your hand. It’s surprisingly breezy. It will feel much less breezy when felt through a mask. You won’t need it, but to make you more comfortable psychologically, ask the technician to show you how to quickly remove the mask and how to disconnect the mask from the hose or CPAP machine. The technician will show you how to call him or her during the night. While sitting up, spend a few moments “practice breathing” through the mask with CPAP turned on. It works! You can do it. You can even fall asleep while wearing it.

Other Laboratory Sleep Evaluations

For a brief description of the Maintenance of Wakefulness Test and Nap Study, see http://yoursleep.aasmnet.org/Studies.aspx

Alternatives to a Laboratory Sleep Study
In-home test though a physician. Some physicians and insurance companies suggest an in-home test. The patient wears various sensors and belts through the night. The results are monitored and reported. Sleep stages and brain waves cannot be measured as they are in a laboratory sleep study. One in-home process used by Kaiser measures apneas and hypopneas per hour, heart rate, respiratory effort, nasal-oral airflow, oxygen saturation using a pulse oximeter, body position, and snoring intensity and frequency. A simpler device is the Accutest SleepStrip, http://www.accutest.net/products/sleepstrip.php . If you explore these alternatives, discuss with your physician the need and ways to detect OSA (obstructive sleep apnea) vs. central apnea (brain not giving a signal to breathe) and mixed sleep apnea (combination of OSA and central), since treatment is different for the three types, as well as detecting other sleep disorders such as Restless Leg Syndrome. Also determine whether your insurance or Medicare will pay for subsequent treatment based on testing that is not the standard sleep study.

Diagnosis based on symptoms and perceived need may be an option for non-insured patients or patients with highly suspected obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) based on symptoms. Not Every Patient Needs to Go to the Sleep Lab is a thought-provoking Powerpoint presentation by a well respected board certified sleep doctor/pulmonologist, Dr. Barbara Phillips, at a meeting of the American Lung Association of the Central Coast in November 2004. Dr. Phillips is a professor of medicine at the University of Kentucky and is on the board of directors of the National Sleep Foundation. This approach would not detect central sleep apnea or mixed sleep apnea. Treatment differs depending on the diagnosis. If eligible, find out whether Medicare or Medicaid would pay for subsequent treatment without an overnight laboratory sleep study.

Humor by Mike Moran: Oct 13, 2005 A CPAP Failure and http://www.cpaptalk.com/viewtopic/t23827/Sermon-on-The-Mask-Humor.html and Dec 05, 2005 Twas Months After Sleep Study

Sources: Based on personal experience with obstructive sleep apnea.
Want more? See the peer coaching articles at http://smart-sleep-apnea.blogspot.com , http://www.cpap.com FAQ Learning Center, or search http://www.cpaptalk.com or post a message there.
Not written by healthcare professionals. The information and opinions offered are not intended or recommended as a substitute for professional medical advice.
© Mile High Sleeper, August 2006 - 2011. All rights reserved. You may make copies of this message and distribute in any media for free educational purposes, as long as you credit the author and include this copyright notice and the web address smart-sleep-apnea dot blogspot dot com

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