Sleep apnea medical therapy
Sleep apnea medical therapy On the Web
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If left untreated, sleep apnea can have serious and life-threatening consequences such heart disease, hypertension, automobile accidents due to somnolence, and many other ailments. Treatment often starts with behavioral therapy. Medical treatment involves the treatment of the underlying cause and somnolence. Medications, such as acetazolamide and oxygen are not routinely used for the treatment of sleep apnea. The most effective treatments help open the airway such as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) and oral appliances.
Benefits of treatment
Sleep Apnea Medical Therapy
The treatment often starts with behavioral therapy. Many patients are told to lose weight and avoid alcohol, sleeping pills, and other sedatives. These can relax throat muscles that contribute to the collapse of the airway at night.
Weight loss of 20 kg with a liquid very low energy diet(2.3 MJ/day) for seven weeks can reduce the AHI by 23 and lead to 20% of patients becoming disease free.
Continuous positive airway pressure
For moderate to severe sleep apnea, CPAP therapy is extremely effective in reducing apneas and less expensive than other treatments. It splints the patient's airway open during sleep by means of a flow of pressurized air into the throat. The patient typically wears a plastic facial mask, which is connected by a flexible tube to a small bedside CPAP machine. The CPAP machine generates the required air pressure to keep the patient's airways open during sleep.
There may be low compliance because patients find it uncomfortable. One way to ensure CPAP therapy remains comfortable for patients is to ensure the CPAP face mask fits well. Eszopiclone, a sedative, used nightly for 14 nights may provide sustained increase in the patient's compliance
Several trials have studied continuous positive airway pressure:
- Patients with Epworth Sleepiness Scale score >10 has a reduction in daytime symptoms.
- Patients with Epworth Sleepiness Scale score <10 had no reduction in cardiovascular events.
- Patients with average AHI of 10 and ESS of 10, who averaged wearing 4 hours of CPAP per night had improvement in quality of life.
Regarding research prior to these trials, the Cochrane Collaboration concluded "CPAP is effective in reducing symptoms of sleepiness and improving quality of life measures in people with moderate and severe obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA). It is more effective than oral appliances in reducing respiratory disturbances in these people but subjective outcomes are more equivocal. Certain people tend to prefer oral appliances to CPAP where both are effective"
Bi-level positive airway pressure (BiPAP) is often more tolerable, as it decreases the pressure when the patient exhales, reducing respiratory effort. For both CPAP and BiPAP, there are a wide range of masks, nasal catheters called "nasal pillows", and it may take several devices and expert fitting to find the right appliance for individual patient."The optimum form of CPAP delivery interface remains unclear... nasal pillows or the Oracle oral mask may be useful alternatives when a patient is unable to tolerate conventional nasal masks" according to the Cochrane Collaboration. A heated humidifier in the compressed air path also helps compliance by preventing drying of the nasal mucosa.
Mandibular advancement devices (MADs) are custom-made, oral appliance placed by general dentists that shifts the lower jaw forward and opens the bite slightly, which opens up the airway
Regarding oral appliances (mandibular advancement device (MAD)), "CPAP appears to be more effective in improving sleep disordered breathing than OA. The difference in symptomatic response between these two treatments is not significant, although it is not possible to exclude an effect in favour of either therapy. Until there is more definitive evidence on the effectiveness of OA in relation to CPAP, with regard to symptoms and long-term complications, it would appear to be appropriate to recommend OA therapy to patients with mild symptomatic OSAH, and those patients who are unwilling or unable to tolerate CPAP therapy" according to the Cochrane Collaboration.
More recent randomized controlled trials report:
- Similar findings in that oral appliances (mandibular advancement device (MAD)) are easier to tolerate, but CPAP is reduces the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) more. Quality-of-life indicators may be better with appliance.
- MAD may not affect quality of life or daytime sleepiness, though other benefits may occur, among patients with apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) lower than 30.
- Medications to treat any underlying causes
- Medications to treat somnolence
- Modafinil 200-400 mg per day
- Acetazolamide, medroxyprogesterone, fluoxetine, and protriptyline are ventilatory stimulants that are not routinely used
A small randomized controlled trial reported that compression stockings reduced the number of apneas and hypopnea, perhaps by "prevention of fluid accumulation in the legs during the day, and its nocturnal displacement into the neck at night."
- Low doses are used as a treatment for hypoxia but are discouraged due to side effects such as a dry or bloody nose, skin irritation from the nasal cannula or face mask, fatigue, and morning headaches
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- Martínez-García M, Capote F, Campos-Rodríguez F, et al. Effect of CPAP on Blood Pressure in Patients With Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Resistant Hypertension: The HIPARCO Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA. 2013;310(22):2407-2415. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.281250.
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- General Information about Sleep Apnea Machines
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