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The Need for Obstructive Sleep Apnea Screening: A Wake-Up Call to Physicians

Sharon A. Chung, PhD1and Colin M. Shapiro, MBBCh, PhD, MRCPsych, FRCP(C)1-3

1Youthdale Treatment Centres, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. 2International Sleep Clinic, Parry Sound, Canada and the 3University of Toronto, Department of Psychiatry, Canada.

CLINICAL TOOLS

Abstract: Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), where patients stop breathing numerous times during sleep, is a disorder linked to serious medical, socioeconomic, and psychological morbidity, yet most patients with OSA remain undetected. Physicians should consider symptoms of frequent/loud snoring, complaints of daytime sleepiness or fatigue, high blood pressure and obesity or excessive body fat distribution in the neck or upper chest area as possible indications of untreated OSA.
Key Words: obstructive sleep apnea, screening, management.
Untreated OSA is associated with significant morbidity and mortality and results in increased healthcare utilization.
OSA is more prevalent in individuals with a chronic medical illness.
Almost 90% of individuals with OSA remain undiagnosed.
Treatment of OSA improves medical outcome; this is particularly relevant in medically ill patients.
Evidence-based medicine supports screening for OSA as part of routine clinical care.
Newer technology allows doctors to 'skip the waiting line' and obtain quick and accurate sleep testing for their patients.
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