Many Women Delay Sleep Apnea Treatment

Ignoring symptoms can lead to bigger health woes, researchers warn

TUESDAY, Oct. 3, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Many women with obstructive sleep apnea put off seeking diagnosis and treatment for the ailment, Canadian researchers say.

Early diagnosis and treatment of the condition can ease symptoms and help curb health-care costs, the study concluded.

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the tissue in the back of the throat collapses and blocks the airway during sleep. An estimated 15 million to 20 million Americans have been diagnosed with the condition, and millions more remain undiagnosed and untreated.

The most common and effective treatment for obstructive sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), which provides a steady stream of pressurized air to patients to keep their airway open while they sleep.

In the study, researchers at the Sleep Disorders Center at St. Boniface General Hospital in Winnipeg, Manitoba, studied 414 women with obstructive sleep apnea.

They found that the women's use of health-care services increased in the two years prior to their diagnosis, but then declined in the two years after diagnosis.

"Our results showed the sleep clinic evaluation (correcting diagnosis and recommending treatment) in patients with obstructive sleep apnea may lead to a significant reduction in physician claims and ambulatory visits," study author Dr. Katsuhisa Banno said in a prepared statement. "Early diagnosis and treatment of OSA may thus contribute to a significant cost savings to health-care systems," she added.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about sleep apnea.

Robert Preidt and Consumer news

Updated on June 12, 2022

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