Undiagnosed OSA opens a pandora box of co-morbidities, Health News, ET HealthWorld

Undiagnosed OSA opens a pandora box of co-morbiditiesVikram Thaploo, CEO, Apollo Telehealth, speaks to ETHealthWorld’s Prathiba Raju about undiagnosed and untreated Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and informs that OSA symptoms are always ignored by patients as it doesn’t affect normal day-to-day life during the early phase of the disease. But if it remains undiagnosed and untreated, it can become one of the major underlying causes for various medical conditions like hypertension, diabetes and various cardiac issues.

Why should OSA be seen as a medical disorder and not a lifestyle disorder? Do we have any data in India on this widely prevalent but under-diagnosed medical condition?

Risk factors for OSA are closely associated with bad lifestyle habits, but if it’s not identified at the right time, it can lead to other chronic disorders like diabetes, hypertension and more which can increase a patient’s morbidity. Therefore, to avoid that situation, it’s always better to look into this problem as a major medical disorder. According to various studies 93 percent people in India are sleep deprived and out of that 65 percent are potential sleep apnea patients but we have only 70 lakh diagnosed patients.

What are the consequences and health risks of OSA ? What are the new techniques or different procedures that are available?

A lot of time OSA symptoms are always ignored by patients as it doesn’t affect normal day to day life during the early phase of the disease. But if it remains undiagnosed and untreated, it can become one of the major underlying causes for various medical conditions like hypertension, diabetes, various cardiac issues and there are a lot of studies to support this statement. There are various traditional devices for screening and diagnosis of sleep apnea named as PSG(Polysomnography) but nowadays we also have HST (Home sleep testing devices) for screening of potential patients. These devices are more convenient and cost-effective for patients. CPAP is used as a therapeutic device for treatment of OSA.

What are the challenges that are involved in diagnosing and treating sleep apnea patients? Do you think strengthening collaboration among the cardiology, sleep medicine, and clinical trial communities is important?

There are three major challenges – awareness about symptoms and consequences of long term OSA, high cost associated with diagnosis and treatment and no structured way of monitoring patient compliance. But, thankfully now there are various technical advancements which are bringing a lot of positive changes in overall treatment protocols for OSA and on the same lines the ‘Good Nidra‘ program is trying to support.

Can you brief us about your multi channel sleep lab at Apollo Hospitals and how it helps people to cope up with OSA?

With the ‘Good Nidra’ program, we believe that we can make it significantly easier to manage patients affected with obstructive sleep apnea and increase the number of patients we can treat on any given day. All one has to do is to fill up a questionnaire then, Sleep experts will connect to assist diagnose, counsel and interpret various clinical reports which will be followed by installation of Connected CPAP device at home Program will also support the patient with constant treatment compliance monitoring and lifestyle management. This innovative new program can help the medical community as a whole to tackle this prevalent silent killer head-on.

Why is research on sleep apnea important and how important do you think patient awareness is? What´s your opinion on the progress of sleep medicine studies worldwide?

There is a need to reduce the burden of sleep problems in society through better prevention and management of sleep disorders and for that awareness is crucial. Disorders like diabetes and hypertension can also be normalised when obstructive sleep apnea is treated. Sleep apnea may also impair the brain’s capacity to either encode or consolidate certain types of life memories, which makes it hard for people to recall details from the past. We do not have enough data and on an average, seven to eight per cent of the general population is estimated to have this condition. So a survey will be crucial to make accurate estimates. Americans and Europeans already have guidelines on the treatment protocol.

Do you think Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machines can help in obstructive sleep apnea treatment or using them could result in serious, even life-threatening injuries?

CPAP works as supportive therapy for management of OSA. Nowadays CPAP devices are very compact, portable, cost-effective and come with connected facilities to monitor treatment compliance remotely which actually improves treatment outcome and keeps patients engaged in therapy.

In the next five years how do you see this space of sleep medicine and conditions like OSA in India. What precautions need to be taken?

As we have seen, a lot of advancements are happening in screening, diagnosis and treatment of OSA through innovative devices. We can definitely expect better pace in management of OSA problems and reduce overall burden of other chronic diseases in the future.

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