Sleep doctor shares expertise on sleep apnea
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Because it is all happening when you are unconscious, most people don’t even know they have sleep apnea, said Dr. Brent Peters, a pulmonologist at UCHealth Pulmonology Clinics in Steamboat Springs and Loveland.
It’s estimated that more than 20 million Americans have a form of sleep apnea, with the majority undiagnosed.
If you think you or a loved one may have sleep apnea — or if you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea and want to know more about treatment — join Peters Monday, March 2, for a presentation and Q & A session.
Peters will be at UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
The event is free and open to the public.
Peters said the information session is a chance to keep people up to date on the latest technology and research, as well as provide accurate information about the condition.
Sleep apnea affects anywhere from 10% to 20% of the adult population, Peters said, but most don’t know it.
And there are different kinds and different degrees.
What: Sleep apnea treatment support and alternatives to CPAP
When: 6 to 7 p.m. Monday, March 2
Where: UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center, 1024 Central Park Drive
Essentially, Peters explained, it is a condition in which people have pauses in their breathing while they sleep. Those pauses can last 10 seconds or as long as 60 seconds.
But whatever form or degree, it can be very serious — even deadly.
Sleep apnea puts people at a greater risk for heart attacks and strokes. Cardiologists are increasingly considering the role sleep apnea may be playing in their patients’ heart health, Peters said. It also has an impact on blood pressure.
There’s an 80% overlap between sleep apnea and atrial fibrillation, Peters said. And weight plays a role, as it is more prevalent among people who are obese. Losing weight can help sleep apnea issues, Peters said, though may not resolve them entirely.
And sleep apnea is on the rise, he said. He sees more and more cases every year and says it’s at an epidemic level.
The most typical signs involved things like feeling sleepy during the day and having trouble concentrating at work.
Peters also hears from people who are concerned about their bed partners. It might be because their partners are restless and moving around, or they hear pauses in their breathing or loud snoring.
While snoring doesn’t mean sleep apnea, Peters said, it could be a sign, especially if it is so loud it can be heard from a different room.
The good news is — there’s treatment. According to the event description, “treating sleep apnea, by allowing your body to get the oxygen and rest it needs, helps with treating cardiac and neurological diseases as well as hypertension, diabetes, depression, weight loss and other conditions you probably would not guess.”
Monday’s talk will cover the details about the use of Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machines — a common and highly effective means of treatment.
However, adherence, Peters said, is a challenge. It involves wearing a mask, which can get cumbersome.
It is 100% effective when used correctly, he said. But 50% to 75% of people stop using it after a year.
Peters wants to better educate people about the devices and encourage people who have tried it before but abandoned it to try again.
There have been significant upgrades to the technology and comfort factor, he said. People often come back and use it with much greater success.
“When it comes to sleep apnea, there’s nothing superior to a CPAP machine,” Peters said, “At least as a first line therapy.”
There’s another new treatment and technology that Peters will be detailing at Monday’s event — an implanted nerve stimulator.
The product is called Inspire, and there are about three places in Colorado that perform the implantation surgeries.
It was approved by the FDA in 2014, and according to the Inspire website, the device “treats the root cause of sleep apnea by applying gentle stimulation to key airway muscles during sleep, allowing you to breathe normally and, more importantly, sleep without a mask, hose or machine.”
After a short healing period, the device is turned on, Peters explained. It is then controlled by a button, which people keep by their bedsides, that activates the implant when they are going to sleep.
Thus far, it has shown to be 90% effective, he said.
There is also a growing field in dentistry in addressing sleep issues and sleep apnea, Peters noted, with some top-notch dentists in that field practicing in Steamboat. Oral appliances can play a role in helping to keep airways open.
For more information about Monday’s event, register here or call Sherri Casson at 970-495-8674.
To reach Kari Dequine Harden, call 970-871-4205, email kharden@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @kariharden.
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Editor’s note: The story was updated at 8:33 p.m.