Afib and OSA – 2 Common Sleep Apnea Causes

It is estimated that approximately 22 million Americans have some form of sleep apnea, with as many of 80 percent of those cases undiagnosed. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) makes up the bulk of sleep apnea cases. Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) is also linked to sleep apnea. About half of those patients who have AFib also suffer from sleep apnea. So, what are these conditions and how are they related to sleep apnea?

Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) and Sleep Apnea

AFib (Atrial Fibrillation) is an abnormal heart rhythm. This condition, affecting 33.5 million people around the world, is an irregular or quivering heartbeat that’s caused by fast, disorganized electrical signals. This rapid, irregular contraction causes blood to pool in the atria. This may allow a blood clot to form. If the clot breaks free and enters the bloodstream, it can cause a stroke. The connection with sleep apnea is complex and is still being researched. Of the many conditions that may cause AFib, including diabetes and high blood pressure, one is sleep apnea. However, AFib may also cause sleep apnea. It has been found that CPAP therapy, in addition to successfully treating sleep apnea, might also benefit patients with AFib.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a condition where, while sleeping, your breaking becomes shallow. You may even stop breathing for a brief period. For many people, this may happen throughout the night. There are different kinds of sleep apnea. In Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), the upper airway becomes partially or completely blocked. Often this is caused if the tongue has collapsed against the soft palate, which then collapses against the back of the throat. When this occurs, the diaphragm and chest muscles must work harder to open that blockage to pull air into the lungs. In this situation, you may find that your breathing resumes with a snort, gasp or jerk of the body. Unless you’re woken up by this, you might not even know it is happening. OSA can reduce the flow of oxygen into the organs and may cause the heart to beat irregularly, as in atrial fibrillation.

Warning Signs of OSA

If you’ve been very sleepy during the day or upon waking, have a sore throat, dry mouth or a headache, you may have obstructive sleep apnea. Other symptoms include difficulty in concentrating, depression, irritability or forgetfulness. These are all side effects of not getting enough restful sleep. Other issues may include snoring, night sweats or waking up feeling like you’re choking or gasping.

Who is Most at Risk for Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

People who are at the greatest risk for OSA include those who are overweight, have a thick neck or smaller mouth, nose or throat airways. Enlarged tonsils or excessive tissue in the back of the throat may also be risk factors. A large tongue might also block the airway, as might a deviated septum. Although OSA isn’t part of aging, it does become more likely as people get older. Men are also more likely to suffer from OSA than women. Other factors that may increase the risk of obstructive sleep apnea include high blood pressure, diabetes and smoking. Those at a greater risk of heart failure or stroke are also at a greater risk of developing OSA.

CPAP: An Effective Therapy for OSA

Fortunately, there are effective treatments available for OSA. The most commonly used is Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP), which has been proven to be successful for both moderate and severe forms of obstructive sleep apnea.

CPAP Titration Study Proves CPAP Can Help Perceived Quality of Life

Can CPAP treatment for sleep apnea improve one’s perceived quality of life? A study conducted by the National Research Council of Italy and the Institute of Biomedicine and Molecular Immunology suggests that it can. The study looked at changes in patients’ Perceived Health Related Quality of Life (HRQoL) immediately following CPAP titration, based on their responses to questions related to well-being, health, vitality and other factors. The researchers’ findings suggest that patients’ HRQoL improves upon the start of CPAP therapy.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea and CPAP Therapy

In Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), there are repeated instances of complete or partial obstruction of the upper airway while sleeping, causing increased respiratory efforts, intermittent deficiency in oxygen intake (hypoxia), blood pressure fluctuations and the disruption of healthy sleep patterns. This disorder affects approximately 24 percent of men and 9 percent of women, though most are undiagnosed. Symptoms such as fatigue and neurocognitive problems are accompanied by social and psychological factors that affect the person’s overall quality of life.

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) therapy, the most common treatment for OSA, is often successful in alleviating upper airway blockage. While the positive physiological effects of CPAP treatment are well-known, this is the first study that examined users’ perceived well-being upon receiving CPAP therapy.

How the Study was Conducted

In a CPAP titration study, CPAP therapy is studied in a laboratory by technicians for its effectiveness. This may occur at the same time as the patient’s in-lab sleep study. For this report, 205 outpatients completed the study, 54 females and 151 males, aged 25 to 79. They were evaluated before and the morning following CPAP titration, which was done with self-adjusting CPAP machines, either at home or in a sleep lab. Recorded signals included airflow, body movements, oxygen saturation, snoring and pulse. Apnea events were noted and scored.

An HRQoL questionnaire measured perceived psychological well-being, with questions pertaining to well-being, anxiety, depression, health, vitality and self-control. A health survey asked questions related to physical and mental function. There was also a “sleepiness scale” that was used to determine the daytime sleepiness of the patient.

What the Findings Indicate

The survey results found that the HRQoL of subjects was impaired before treatment and that their HRQoL significantly improved after CPAP therapy. This occurred among all age groups and weights (BMI) and regardless of OSA severity, excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) and nocturnal hypoxia. While further studies must be done to assess gender differences, males experienced greater perceived HRQoL than females after CPAP titration. This improvement occurred with both laboratory and home CPAP titration.

Conclusions

This study shows that CPAP use has a positive impact on perceived well-being, as soon as the CPAP therapy begins. It also demonstrates that this benefit can occur with home use and not just in a laboratory setting.

 

How Humidfiers Make CPAP More Comfortable

After you’re first diagnosed with sleep apnea and begin to use a CPAP machine, it may take a little while to adjust to the device. Depending on whether you’re a mouth or nose breather and what type of CPAP device you’re using, you may experience symptoms such as a dry mouth, sore throat, dry and cracked lips, dry or irritated nasal passages, nasal congestion, headache and at times, even bleeding nostrils. Don’t despair. These symptoms can be greatly alleviated or even eliminated completely by using a CPAP humidifier.

How do humidifiers make CPAP more comfortable?
CPAP, or “continuous positive airway pressure,” sends pressurized air through a tube and into a mask keeping your throat open so that you breathe through the night steadily and comfortably. However, the pressurized air from a CPAP machine is cold and dry, which can be uncomfortable for many people. You might also be someone who breathes through their mouth when you sleep, which adds to the problem of dry mouth. Using a CPAP machine with a built-in or attached humidifier can greatly help, especially if it’s a heated humidifier.

In a CPAP humidifier, there is a water chamber that adds heat and moisture to the air coming from your CPAP machine, so that the air you breathe from your mask is warm, moist and comfortable. Dry air can worsen nasal congestion, so using a humidifier can also make it easier to breathe at night with the CPAP device, especially for someone who has a cold or suffers from seasonal allergies. This is especially true if they use a nasal mask or nasal pillow mask. These are the great benefits of CPAP humidifiers.

Types of CPAP Humidifiers
At Respshop, you’ll find a wide selection of high-quality CPAP humidifiers with advanced features from the world’s leading manufacturers of CPAP equipment for sleep apnea. This includes models with greater capacity water chambers, protection from rainout (a problem that can occur due to condensation) and adjustable settings. We have premium heated humidifiers from top companies like DeVilbiss, ResMed, Apex, Transcend and Respironics.

Featured Brand: Human Design Medical

Located in Charlottesville, Virginia, Human Design Medical (HDM) specializes in medical devices that fit seamlessly into users’ busy lives. Their flagship product, the Z1 line of portable CPAP devices, is designed for the active lifestyle. This unique system offers the most advanced features in a durable, compact and lightweight package. The forward-thinking company also offers a full line of accessories and supplies, specially designed for their Z1 CPAP machines.

At 6.5 inches long and weighing just 9.6 ounces, the Z1 Travel CPAP device is the smallest and lightest CPAP device on the market. Yet despite its size, it boasts impressive features not seen on much larger, cumbersome units. The company’s innovative CPAP technology includes quiet operation (26 dba) and an optional integrated battery system, PowerShell™, that provides cord-free power for a full night on just a single charge. It also features a user-friendly interface and advanced software that records all event and compliance information.

The palm-sized Z1 Travel CPAP machine has built-in humidification, pressure relief and a backlit screen for adjusting settings. It’s extremely durable and uses ramp technology, which gradually increases the pressure for more comfortable use. The external heat moisture exchange acts as a humidifier for greater comfort, while the air pressure can be easily adjusted. It also automatically adjusts pressure for differences in altitude. All data, such as usage time, leaks and AHI is captured and recorded.

The Z1 Auto® Travel CPAP machine adds an automatic algorithm to provide a customized therapeutic experience. It also has built-in Bluetooth data management so you can monitor all your CPAP therapy information and statistics on your iPad or iPhone with their specially designed software, Nitelog™.

At RespShop, you’ll find these revolutionary travel CPAP devices plus a full line of HDM accessories, specially designed for the Z1 units. This includes a carrying case, tubing, an overnight battery pack, Q-Tube muffler, AC power supply, heat and moisture exchanger, foam replacement kit, plastic filter cover, disposable filters, tubing adapter, USB cable and 12-volt DC power adapter that can be used to charge your CPAP device in a vehicle.

The Z1 is the perfect travel companion for a person with sleep apnea — no more lugging around heavy, bulky equipment on your road trips.

Potential advances in treating sleep apnea

Potential New Advances in Treating Sleep Apnea

If you’re a sufferer of sleep apnea, you already know the high risks that can come about if your condition is left untreated. Here at Resp Shop, we’re constantly on the lookout for the latest new advancements in treating sleep apnea, and there may be a promising new solution on the market for those who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea.

Sleep Stimulation Devices

One of the newest advancements to make waves in the study of sleep apnea is what doctors are calling sleep stimulation devices. The leading innovator of this new device is a Minnesota company called Inspire Medical Systems, which has developed the Inspire Upper Airway Stimulation Device. The Inspire device is implanted into your chest surgically and provides mild stimulation to the muscles and soft tissues that may relax and block airways (causing apnea events) during sleep, as well as the hypoglossal nerve that controls your tongue and other key airway muscles.

Unlike other treatments, the Inspire device is said to target the root cause of the problem — those muscles which may relax and limit your ability to breathe. Inspire also monitors every breath you take and provides stimulation when it senses that an episode may occur. The Inspire device comes with a handheld sleep remote that you turn on at night when you go to sleep and then turn off when you wake up, so it’s only being used while you’re at rest or sleeping.

Inspire recommends this new treatment for those with moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea (an AHI of 20 to 65) who are over the age of 22 and not significantly overweight. It is not likely that the system will completely replacement CPAP machines. In fact, Inspire says that the device is only suitable for those who are unable to use or get consistent benefits from a CPAP machine.