Exploring Sleep Apnea

Do you snore or have a tendency towards excessive tiredness during the waking hours?  Do you tend to fall asleep when sitting and watching TV or feel close to nodding off driving?  Have you been noted to stop breathing while asleep or awaken suddenly gasping for breath?  If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then you might be in need of an evaluation for sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is increasingly being recognized as either causative or contributing to many serious medical disorders including diabetes, obesity, hypertension, heart failure, coronary artery disease, atrial fibrillation, ventricular arrhythmias, and stroke.  Diagnosing and treating it can be very instrumental in warding off bad outcomes from these problems.  We know that cardiac patients with sleep apnea who are treated effectively for it have fewer complications and hospitalizations for such things as resistant hypertension, heart failure, angina, and cardiac arrhythmia.

Sleep apnea can be diagnosed after eliciting the symptoms/signs discussed above followed by a sleep study (either done formally in a dedicated accredited sleep lab, or through screening on home studies.

Once diagnosed a careful assessment of the patient might suggest whether they could be treated most effectively with a CPAP mask or whether they might be a candidate for a dental oral appliance.  In certain cases ENT evaluation and surgery might also help correct the problem.

The benefits of treating sleep apnea include a reduction in cardiac events and the progression of hypertension or development of diabetes.  Improved vitality and energy levels are commonly seen as well.  As a practicing interventional cardiologist I have looked for and referred many patients for treatment.  Effective treatment has had a huge benefit in their quality of life on followup visits.

Please talk with your doctor if you suspect that you have some of the symptoms described above.  You will likely be very happy that you did!

Dr. Ajluni is a fellow of the American College of Cardiology and a member of the Oakland County Medical Society, Michigan State Medical Society, and the American Heart Association. He is on staff at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak and Troy. He practices at both Michigan Heart Group and Western Wayne Heart Group where he is also the CEO.

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