Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Sleep Apnea Cure Could Save Billions
I'm busy with things medical once more, this time with being treated for sleep apnea. I first remember being told I stopped breathing during sleep about 20 years ago, so it is not surprising that this condition has gradually got worse since then.
The cure is to wear a mask into which pressured air is fed which forces you to breathe when you stop, the amount of pressure being worked out by the machine to match the records it keeps every second of every night. The results are quite astounding, as people who don't breathe much during sleep become starved of oxygen and suffer the effects of hypoxia.
I've had my machine two weeks and although I still have a few teething problems with using it, it is amazing how much energy I feel after years of living on half power or less.
Apnea is thought to be a contributory factor in many other conditions, including stroke, and heart problems. As it can be cured so easily and so cheaply, it is extraordinary that the NHS places little emphasis on it. It would save the country billions, as the longterm debilitating illnesses it causes are expensive to treat.
For details of how serious sleep apnea is, see HERE. Maybe David Cameron might suggest to the NHS that they take a more serious view of this matter. A significant number of road crashes are caused by it, if it is left untreated.
EXTRACT FROM LINK -
The symptoms of sleep apnea can develop so gradually that a person may not realize they have become ill. When persons begin to benefit from treatment for sleep apnea, it is common for them to realize only then how poor they had been feeling for years beforehand.
One quick way to decide if you might have sleep apnea is to check your oxygen body/tissue level. This is a very quick and easy test using a simple device which grips a finger. But most doctors will not carry out this simple test - LINK. Because if they do and you are low (I was 11% out of the normal 60% - i.e. nearly out completely and near to final collapse with heart rate clinging on at 35), then they will have to explain why your oxygen is low and that can take time, and increase costs, using up resources which they don't have. They prefer to wait until symptoms are serious and quicker to diagnose. But why wait?
Another patient in the same hospital I was in, had oxygen body tissue level of 58%, only down 2%, but was suffering serious health effects even at this level, which were wrecking his quality if life. You need 60% oxygen in your body tissue to be healthy. He did not have sleep apnea, but used oxygen breathing anyway, and found he could handle his condition if he took oxygen when he sensed an attack coming on.
Get the oxygen test done privately. The NHS in Britain will not help you.
If you are low, doctors will want to test you further to find out why you are low. This can take years. It might be best to just get an oxygen concentrator and breathe air with high density oxygen for at least two hours a day - at a low setting 1 litre if used during sleep (up to 5 hours) or up to 4 litres if awake, and see if you improve your condition. These cost a bit - maybe $3000 but could save your life, and greatly improve its quality if you are suffering poor health. Over a period of months your oxygen level will rise (if it's down) taking stress off your heart and giving your cells increased energy. I use a Devilbiss oxygen concentrator 5 litres capacity. That along with a CPAP gave me my life back.
If you have sleep apnea, you need a CPAP or other device, as well as oxygen, and can get a sleep specialist clinic to analyse what you need in that regard. But no one in the health provision business seems to bother with oxygen. I had visited a specialist after years of seeing doctors, who screened my nervous system and it was him who found the lack of oxygen and the sleep apnea. But his approach was explained to me as experimental and not orthodox medicine. It should be.
As 8% of the population suffers sleep apnea, mostly undetected, and there are many serious health and social consequences if it is not treated, this is the biggest gap in health provision in the world bar none.
You don't need to be old to suffer from it, or fat. One reason mine was not diagnosed as the profession believes sleep apnea affects size 17 necks and up in men. I was still quite slim, but had severe sleep apnea with one minute breathing stops every 5 minutes when on my back.
Doctors will skim over this. You cannot afford to.