Sleep apnea is related to a variety of both mental and physical disorders. For example, 80 percent of the patients with resistant high blood pressure also have obstructive sleep apnea. In addition, 50 percent of people with diabetes, congestive heart failure and atrial fibrillation also have apnea. Apnea also will affect 78 percent of morbidly obese patients.
The most common treatment for obstructive sleep apnea is CPAP or continuous positive airway pressure. The CPAP works by pushing air through the airway passage at a pressure high enough to prevent the partial or total closure of the airway.
CPAP use can seem overwhelming at times, but support is available for users at The Center for Sleep Medicine. With assistance and support from sleep medicine physicians, a free CPAP clinic was established and has been operational for more than two years. At first, the clinic was created for center patients who required extra assistance in getting comfortable with therapy. But, the offering has been opened up to include education for family members and partners, as well as those who have had sleep studies through another sleep center or provider. Current Center for Sleep Medicine patients are encouraged to participate in the free CPAP clinic, along with anyone in the community who would like assistance with CPAP.
Sleep specialists know how important it is to have a support person to address problems that arise when trying to adjust to therapy. They also recognize that the field of sleep medicine is growing so rapidly that patients also need to be educated and updated along the way.
CPAP machines have improved alongside other technological advances in the last few years. They’re now smaller and quieter, and they have added features that can adjust to fit the patient’s breathing pattern. It’s important for patients to remember to have an annual follow-up with their sleep specialist to determine if all the personalized settings still are providing the therapy they need. Health changes may warrant new equipment and different modes of therapy.
Patients who can benefit and tend to participate in the free CPAP clinic may be looking to change mask styles and look at other mask options. There are approximately 50 different mask types to try on and choose from, and many are displayed at the center. Other appointments may be for education, equipment and supply concerns, or requests for pressure and special feature adjustments. Sometimes a family member or bed partner may need education or tips on providing support and encouragement to their loved one. Support from loved ones can be a very important part of successful CPAP therapy.
Additionally, it helps those who’ve used CPAP therapy in the past, but for whatever reason, aren’t currently using the therapy. Patients can bring in their CPAP/Bi-level unit and mask for re-evaluation. If possible, downloads of information -- on models that are equipped -- usually are done at the same time to assist in the evaluation step. Sleep technicians then can make suggestions or revisions for improvement and assist with the CPAP therapy plan.