Theresa Shumard, sleep advocate and manager of North American Education and Clinical Services at DeVilbiss Healthcare, a division of Sunrise Medical, said there is a strong correlation between obstructive sleep apnea and other medical conditions, such as hypertension and atherosclerosis. The treatment of OSA with CPAP therapy can significantly reduce the risk factors for both OSA and for conditions associated with it.
“In recent years we’ve learned much about OSA and how it affects other medical disorders. The evidence indicates that OSA causes or contributes to many of these other diseases. We now know that treatment with CPAP for OSA in diabetics and hypertensive patients may improve insulin responsiveness, reduce blood pressure, and normalize the abnormal growth hormone cycle, and may possibly improve the impaired lipid metabolism seen in OSA,” Shumard says.
A clear link exists between OSA and hypertension, as an estimated 70 percent of sleep apnea patients are hypertensive. “In the linkage between OSA and stroke, evidence has clearly been brought forth to support that the treatment of OSA significantly improves early signs of atherosclerosis,” Shumard says. “This supports the concept that OSA is an independent risk factor for atherosclerosis. Both coronary heart disease and stroke share many of the same risk factors, and people with severe sleep apnea have more than two times the risk of ischemic stroke than people with no or mild apnea. With the mounting body of knowledge in clinical trials, more than ever we know that CPAP can save lives and reduce the risks and consequences in co-morbid conditions.”
With compliance being a huge issue for clients with CPAPs, DeVilbiss launched the eCompliance System, where CPAP usage data can be provided remotely without cards. It can notify providers and clinicians when non-adherence is detected and improve compliance by analyzing patient data and isolating patients that require attention.
“Research tells us that the first two weeks of a new patient?s CPAP usage is critical for improving the likelihood of long-term compliance,” Shumad says.
Social stigma in wearing the CPAP, fears and discomforts can all contribute to non-compliance, according to Shumad.
“Feelings of being ‘unattractive’ override common sense and the knowledge that treatment is going to improve health in patients who may not have had access to patient education. Appropriate education regarding CPAP and OSA goes a very long way in helping patients learn how to cope with obstacles related to treatment by empowering them with necessary tools for successful adherence,” Shumad says.
DeVilbiss is currently working on its next generation of compliance technology.
Shumad discusses sleep disorders online through podcasts.