Do you live with someone who snores? If so, you might suspect sleep apnea, a condition caused by repeated closures of the upper airway during sleep. While not everyone who snores has sleep apnea, the disorder affects up to 17 percent of the population and over time can lead to other serious health problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.
Until recently, confirming a diagnosis of sleep apnea required a monitored overnight stay in a sleep center, such as the one at Virginia Mason. Now thanks to better technology and improved criteria for patient selection, the overnight sleep test can be completed at home. The best candidates for at-home testing include overweight patients with loud snoring who may also suffer from high blood pressure or diabetes, and whose partners have observed apnea episodes in the past.
If a Virginia Mason Sleep Disorders Center physician determines a home test is appropriate, the patient receives instructions on how to use a sleep apnea testing device. The simple device records data while the patient sleeps, which can then be returned to the sleep center or any Virginia Mason regional clinic for analysis.
“Since we started in September, we have seen a lot of patients who would never have come for a test if they couldn’t do it at home,” says William DePaso, MD, medical director, VM Sleep Disorders Center. “This is a big advantage for patients because it breaks down a huge barrier for getting care for a disease that is linked to weight gain, diabetes, fibromyalgia and worse, to say nothing of being tired every day.”
Sleep medicine consultative services are provided at Virginia Mason’s Seattle Main Campus, as well as clinics in Bellevue, Issaquah, Federal Way, Kirkland, Winslow and Lynnwood. Sleep testing is performed in Seattle. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call (206) 625-7180.