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Obstructive Sleep Apnea: Home Testing As Good As Laboratory; Patients Can Save Time and Money!

Update Date: Jan 25, 2017 08:40 AM EST

A new study reveals that home sleep testing for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is as good as laboratory-based testing. Polysomnography (PSG) is still the gold standard for assessing OSA, but many find it expensive and time-consuming.

OSA is a condition that causes people to stop breathing at night while sleeping because of throat muscle relaxation. Around 18 million Americans have the sleep disorder but 80 percent are undiagnosed.

US News reports that untreated OSA may lead to increased risk of diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, cardiac arrest and stroke. In 2000, around 800,000 drivers were involved in accidents due to OSA, while National Commission on Sleep Disorders Research estimates that 40,000 deaths related to cardiovascular problems are related to sleep apnea.

The increasing prevalence of sleep apnea has also increased the demand for diagnostic sleep services. Sleep laboratory are clinics where patients are being evaluated by neurologists, pulmonologists, otorhinolaryngologists and other physicians who had undergo training in sleep medicine. However, some patients are not comfortable sleeping in strange clinics while others cannot afford such evaluation.

A study titled "Physician Decision Making and Clinical Outcomes With Laboratory Polysomnography or Limited-Channel Sleep Studies for Obstructive Sleep Apnea: A Randomized Trial" published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, revealed that outcomes for patients managed using manual scores were not clinically inferior to those managed with full PSG. In home testing, there are no electroencephalography, electrooculography or electromyography to score sleep stages.

The trial was conducted in 406 patients suspected to have OSA. The results of the study supports the contention that home-based diagnosis and treatment is as good as the laboratory-base.

However, authors of the study acknowledged that the study lacks the assessment of cardiovascular effects and exclusion of patients with active cardiovascular disease. Still, they claim that home testing is beneficial for broad range of patients with sleep apnea.

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