From the FMS Global and UK News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton
Courtesy of WebMD.com
By Dr. Rod Moser, PA, PhD
Yes, I admit it. I snore. I come from a long, proud line of snorers, and although I rarely hear myself doing it, I have been told it is quite impressive. One night, my wife (also a snorer-in-denial) tried to videotape me. I was awakened by her setting up the tripod in a clandestine attempt to document my nighttime throat concert. I remained quiet and pretended to be asleep. After 20 minutes of my baby-like quietness, she turned off the camera and crawled in bed. Minutes later, SHE began to snore. Since the camera was already set up, it was an easy task to get her on tape. She was not happy about it.
Now, sleep apnea is another problem entirely. When you stop breathing for a prolonged period of time during your snoring, this can cause some serious strain on the ‘ol heart – a man’s second favorite organ. So, after a few years of threats and relentless begging, I finally agreed to a sleep study. I just got home from that experience. After two 12-hour shifts in the pediatric clinic, I was sure I would sleep like a log. Wrong.
I have never had a more uncomfortable night in my life. First, I was wired up like a robot put together by a two-year old. More than a dozen sensors stuck to my head, face, chest, legs, abdomen, up my nose, in front of my mouth; attached to my hairy body and face with gobs of disgusting glue. This stuff is on a man that cannot stand wearing a RING to bed.
I was led to my bedroom for the night, a standard hammock-like hospital bed that still had the faint impression of the fat guy from the night before. I was to lie on my back (not the sleeping position that I have been used to for a half a century) and patiently wait about two more hours — normal sleeping time. I tired of reading, but the wires all over my face annoyed me to no end. I was in multi-sensory overload for sure and very close to going insane.
I had a pulse oximetry sensor on my right index finger, the one I would normally use to fish out an occasional rogue booger. Of course, I had one, and it was awkward for my nose to have a strange finger in there. I tried to watch TV, but there is something about a wired-up guy with bad vision and a 14 inch TV screen attached to a wall 20 feet away that was incompatible.
There were three other guys at the Sleep Center that night (in their own rooms, of course) including one very large Mexican fellow in the room next to mine. According to the experienced respiratory therapist, Mexicans are the maestros of snoring. I was able to confirm that observation over the next two more hours as he rattled my wall with the loudest snoring I have ever heard, with apnea pauses so long I thought he had died. I tried to use his snoring as some sort of “count the sheep” exercise, but to no avail.
When the staff checked on me to find out why I was still awake at 2 AM, they understood why. The agreed to slap on a CPAP on him, a bizarre mask-like device that forces air into your lungs to stop the snoring and supply some needed oxygen to the brain. He finally quieted down, and I finally feel asleep…on and off, for about three more hours.
I woke up at 5 AM, tangled in my wires and seriously needing to urinate. I figured there was no way that I would get back to sleep for the last hour of the test which ended at 6 AM, so I pulled off those damn sensors. Finally. Worst night of my life.
It is going to be a week or so before I get the results of my abbreviated sleep study, but I was told I did not do that bad (whatever that means); certainly better than my Mexican neighbor who will surely go home with a CPAP. I canot imagine that I will be able to tolerate a CPAP…ever, both from the profound discomfort aspect and the obvious cosmetic effect. Maybe I will just dump my wife and look for a cute deaf woman.
ON A MORE SERIOUS NOTE……..
Men’s Sleep Apnea Increases Heart Problems
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) Helps, Say Spanish Researchers
By Miranda Hitti – WebMD Health News
Men with severe obstructive sleep apnea appear to run a higher risk of fatal or nonfatal heart problems. But treating men’s sleep apnea with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) for at least four hours a night can lower that risk, a Spanish study shows.
“Treatment with CPAP significantly reduces cardiovascular risk in patients with severe obstructive sleep apnea,” write the researchers.
Breathing Briefly Blocked During Sleep
Sleep apnea is a disorder in which a person regularly stops breathing during sleep for 10 seconds or longer. The episodes can happen from five to 50 times per hour. That Is beyond occasional interruptions in breathing, which are normal.
Obstructive sleep apnea — the focus of the Spanish study — is usually caused by a blockage in the nose or mouth from a structural problem that gets in the way of airflow during sleep.
Most patients are overweight, middle-aged men, but anyone can get it, including children. Obstructive sleep apnea affects 4% of middle-aged men and 2% of middle-aged women, say researchers.
The problem is also a hazard during waking hours. “This disorder is widely accepted to be associated with high rates of morbidity and mortality, mostly due to [heart] disease and traffic accidents,” write the researchers.
Hearts at Risk?
Many previous studies have shown that obstructive sleep apnea significantly increases the risk of fatal or nonfatal heart problems, especially in people with pre-existing heart disease, say researchers.
Their goal was to improve on those studies and see if CPAP made a difference.
CPAP helps people with obstructive sleep apnea breathe more easily during sleep. It is considered the first treatment of choice and is the most widely used approach to this problem.
Patients use the CPAP device at home every night. They wear a mask that covers their nose, or nasal prongs that are hooked to a hose and the machine. The device forces air into the airways, which prevents it from collapsing when the patient inhales.
All of the study’s participants were men. The researchers say they chose not to include women because other factors – such as sex hormones — can affect heart disease.
Here is how the group broke down:
264 healthy men
377 men who snored but did not have obstructive sleep apnea
403 men with mild-to-moderate obstructive sleep apnea that had not been treated
235 men with severe obstructive sleep apnea that had not been treated
372 men with obstructive sleep apnea treated with CPAP
Patients checked in with the researchers at least once a year for about 10 years. Strokes and heart attacks were noted, along with heart bypass surgery and angiography.
More Heart Problems With Untreated Sleep Apnea
Heart disease was most common among men with severe, untreated obstructive sleep apnea. Their rates of heart attack or stroke were higher compared with the healthy men, simple snorers, and men with treated obstructive sleep apnea.
The study showed that untreated severe obstructive sleep apnea nearly tripled the risk of fatal heart disease and more than tripled the risk of nonfatal heart disease.
Simple snorers and healthy men were not at higher risk of fatal or nonfatal heart problems. “Simple snoring is not a significant cardiovascular risk factor,” write the researchers.
CPAP significantly cut the risk of heart problems, say the researchers, who included Jose Marin, MD, of Universitario Miguel Servet in Zaragoza, Spain.
Because the study only included men, the researchers do not know if the findings would also apply to women. The study appeared in the The Lancet.