Loud snoring, morning headaches, restless sleep, forgetfulness and mood changes are just a few signs of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea involves the repeated collapse of the upper airway during sleep. It puts an enormous strain on your heart by repeatedly causing oxygen levels to drop and blood pressure to surge as you sleep. More than 30 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders, yet a large majority of them are undiagnosed and untreated. If left untreated, severe obstructive sleep apnea more than doubles your risk of dying from heart disease, the National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project warns. Project partners – including the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Sleep Research Society (SRS) – launched the “Sleep Apnea Hurts Hearts” campaign to raise public awareness and urge individuals with symptoms of sleep apnea to talk to a doctor about their risk.
Little Company of Mary Hospital (LCMH) is a premier provider of sleep medicine consultations and sleep studies. Under the direction of Medical Director, Richard Kern, M.D., Pulmonologist at LCMH and board-certified in Sleep Medicine and a Fellow of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), the Sleep Center at LCMH has more than 25 years of experience in evaluating patients with sleep disorders, conducting sleep studies, and determining effective treatment.
“Our goal is to help people who suffer from sleep apnea, insomnia, and other sleep disorders obtain healthy refreshing sleep,” says Dr. Kern. “Sleep disorders are extremely common in our society and, unfortunately, most people with symptoms are undiagnosed and untreated.”
Severe obstructive sleep apnea hurts HEARTS by increasing the risk of:
H – Heart failure
E – Elevated blood pressure
A – Atrial fibrillation
R – Resistant hypertension
T – Type 2 diabetes
S – Stroke
Some of the most common risk factors for sleep apnea are obesity (BMI of 30+), narrow airway, large neck, tongue or tonsils, and recessed jaw. Fortunately, treatments for obstructive sleep apnea are available. Following diagnosis by a board-certified sleep medicine physician, the most commonly prescribed treatment for sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure therapy – or CPAP. This treatment uses mild levels of air pressure, provided through a mask, to keep the throat open while you sleep.
“The Sleep Disorders Center at LCMH is your gateway to a team of sleep professionals and sleep expertise for adults and children ages five and older,” says Dr. Kern. The Center has been accredited by the AASM since 2009. Accreditation assures the highest level of care by specially trained physicians and sleep technicians who follow established protocols for evaluation and treatment.
Sleep studies are traditionally performed overnight in the Sleep Disorders Center located in the hospital. Testing is performed in the comfort of a bedroom environment, using the latest state of-the-art technology to monitor breathing patterns, heart rate, brain waves, and oxygen levels. A sleep technician is always available to answer your questions and assist you during the night. After the study is completed, you may shower and return home or go to work. For some patients, based on insurance requirements and your sleep specialist’s recommendations, a home sleep study may be performed. If indicated, a sleep technician will provide personal instruction on how to set up and use the sleep monitor which is returned to the Center the following day.
Get the help you need at Little Company of Mary’s Sleep Disorders Center. To take the online sleep study quiz, visit www.LCMH.org/Sleep. To make an appointment for a consultation, please contact the Sleep Disorders Center at 708.423.REST (7378).