OBSTRUCTIVE SLEEP-APNEA TRENDS IN THERAPY WESTERN JOURNAL OF MEDICINE Riley, R. W., Powell, N. B., Guilleminault, C., Clerk, A., Troell, R. 1995; 162 (2): 143-148


The National Commission on Sleep Disorders Research, in its report to Congress, concluded that the primary care community generally does not understand sleep disorders. Obstructive sleep apnea carries a risk of substantial morbidity and mortality. Excessive daytime sleepiness results from fragmented sleep and microarousals associated with apneic events. It causes poor work performance and increases the incidence of automobile accidents due to driving while drowsy. The commission estimates that the loss of productivity in the United States from excessive daytime sleepiness is more than $20 billion per year. Obstructive sleep apnea is strongly associated with hypertension, myocardial infarction, and stroke. Risk factors for obstructive sleep apnea include male sex, obesity, older age, craniofacial anomalies, and familial risk. Treatment is based on documenting the disorder by polysomnography. Medical management of the syndrome includes weight loss and nasal continuous positive airway pressure. A network of follow-up and support is necessary to maintain compliance. Surgical treatment is reserved for those for whom nasal airway pressure treatment fails. A surgical protocol is presented that demonstrates efficacy equal to nasal airway pressure treatment. Primary care physicians should assume the responsibility of identifying patients at risk for obstructive sleep apnea and refer them appropriately.

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