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News About Sleep

Sleep News of Interest

Snoring "raises blood pressure" of bed partner

Wednesday, 13th February 2008

A snoring partner can cause blood pressure to rise even as you sleep, according to new research.

Aircraft and traffic noise are just a few other intrusive noises that can cause the occurrence, scientists found.

The discovery was made after the scientists monitored 140 sleeping volunteers at their homes near Heathrow and three other major European airports.

Participants' blood pressure was found to increase noticeably after a "noise event" - a sound louder than 35 decibels.

Aircraft noise produced an average rise in systolic "heartbeat" blood pressure of 6.2mm of mercury (mmHg).

Diastolic pressure, the pressure between beats, was increased by 7.4 mmHg. Similar blood pressure rises were triggered by other noise sources such as traffic.

The scientists said that overall blood pressure went up in direct relation to noise loudness.  The type of sound, or its origin, did not appear to be important.

Dr. Lars Jarup, one of the study authors from Imperial College London, said:  "We know that noise from air traffic can be a source of irritation, but our research shows that it can also be damaging for people's health, which is particularly significant in light of plans to expand international airports."

Imperial College London

Copyright© PA Business 2008

Could My Child Have Sleep Apnea?

AAO-HNS Bulletin February 2007 37

©2007 American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery

Sleep apnea is known to affect 1 to 3 percent of children, but because there may be many unreported cases, could actually affect more.  Sleep apnea can affect your child’s sleep and behavior and if left untreated can lead to more serious problems.  Because sleep apnea can be difficult to diagnose, it is important to monitor your child for the symptoms and have a doctor see her if she exhibits any.

What is sleep apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when breathing is disrupted during sleep.  This occurs when the airway is blocked, resulting in choking that causes a slower heart rate and increased blood pressure, alerting your child’s brain and causing him to wake up.

What are the symptoms?

The first sign that your child may have sleep apnea is loud snoring that occurs regularly. You may also notice behavioral changes.  Due to a lack of sleep, he or she may be more cranky, have more or less energy, and have difficulty concentrating in school.

How is sleep apnea diagnosed?

If you notice that your child has any of those symptoms, have him or her checked by an otolaryngologist— head and neck surgeon, who can use a sleep test to determine sleep apnea.  For the test, electrodes are attached to the head to monitor brain waves, muscle tension, eye movement, breathing, and the level of oxygen in the blood.  The test is not painful and can be performed in a sleep laboratory or at home.

Results can vary, so it is important to have the otolaryngologist determine whether your child needs treatment.  Often, in mild cases, treatment will be delayed while you are asked to monitor your child and let the doctor know if the symptoms worsen.  In severe cases, the doctor will determine the appropriate treatment.

What are the dangers if sleep apnea is left untreated?

Because sleep apnea can lead to more serious problems, it is important that it be properly treated.  When left untreated, sleep apnea can cause:

What causes sleep apnea?

In children, sleep apnea can occur for several physical reasons, including enlarged tonsils and adenoids, and abnormalities of the jaw bone and tongue.  These factors cause the airway to be blocked, resulting in vibration of the tonsils, or snoring.  Overweight children are at increased risk for sleep apnea.  Of the 37 percent of children who are considered overweight, 25 percent of them likely have sleeping difficulties that may include sleep apnea.  This is because extra fat around the neck and throat block the airway, making it difficult for these children to sleep soundly.  Studies have shown that after three months of exercise, the number of children at risk for sleep apnea dropped by 50 percent.

How is sleep apnea treated?

Because enlarged tonsils and adenoids are a common cause of sleep apnea in children, routine treatment often involves an adenotonsillectomy, an operation to remove the tonsils and adenoids.  This is a routine operation with a 90 percent success rate.  Studies published in Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery (October 2005) and presented at the Academy’s 2006 annual meeting in Toronto showed that when children with sleep apnea were tested one to five months after their surgery, they showed extreme improvement in their sleep and behavior, and that these improvements remained nearly a year and a half later.

Trucker With Sleep Apnea to be Tried for Manslaughter

From Sleep Review

A truck driver involved in a deadly collision that killed a mother and her son was aware that he had sleep apnea, adding controversy to a trial set to begin August 20.

Expert opinion and trooper testimony given in a Salina courtroom, where the hearing was being held, suggests that the driver fell asleep while driving, leading to the collision.  Prosecutors in the trial argue that the trucker, Scott A. Wegrzyn, “acted recklessly by consciously disregarding the risk posed by his medical condition,” a report in the Salina Journal said.

During the hearing, physician assistant Connie Anderson at a Lincoln, Neb, medical clinic, testified, “He (Wegrzyn) indicated he didn’t use the [CPAP] machine, because he didn’t feel it was doing anything for him,” according to the Salina Journal. Despite the comment, she testified that she could medically certify Wegrzyn for 3 months, but also told him that he should use his CPAP and see his doctor for further tests.

In a secondary examination, with another doctor, Wegrzyn did not mention he had sleep apnea and was granted a 2-year medical certificate.

Recommendations released in 2006 by a joint task force consisting of the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP), American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM), and the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) suggest a screening process that bases driver certification on severity of sleep apnea.  These recommendations suggest certifying a driver at lower risk for sleep apnea for a maximum of 3 months, pending a medical evaluation (in-service evaluations), while drivers with more severe risk factors or who have had a motor vehicle crash likely related to sleep disturbances should be prohibited from returning to work until they receive a medical evaluation (out-of-service evaluations).  Furthermore, the task force suggested expanding the screening process to include a more extensive medical and physical history, flagging such risk factors as body mass index, neck circumference, family history of obstructive sleep apnea, and history of comorbidities.  For those diagnosed with sleep apnea, experts strongly recommend using positive airway pressure for a minimum of 4 hours within a 24-hour period via a machine that is able to measure time on pressure.

In the Salina case, Wegrzyn told investigators the crash occurred after he lost consciousness from choking on food. Trooper testimony acknowledged that this was a possibility.

Despite the choking claim, Assistant Saline County Attorney Amy Hanley told District Judge Dan Boyer that at Wegrzyn’s trial, "she would present other circumstantial evidence to prove that the wreck was caused by more than Wegrzyn simply choking and passing out," the report said.

Wegrzyn faces felony charges that include two counts of involuntary manslaughter and two counts of reckless aggravated battery.

Sleep Apnea Ruled a Factor in Reggie White's Death

DALLAS, May 15, 2006/PRNewswire/ -- Reggie White, a fearsome defensive end for the Philadelphia Eagles and Green Bay Packers who was one of the greatest players in NFL history, reportedly died from causes related to sleep apnea.  "With proper diagnosis and treatment, Reggie's death could have been prevented," says Sara White, National Spokesperson for DOSA and White's widow. Reggie White, the minister of defense for the Green Bay Packers from 1993 to 1998, died at age 43 on Dec. 26, 2004.

"Sleep is extremely fragmented and of poor quality for those individuals who are afflicted," explains Dr. Baird, Founder and co-director of the Dental Organization for Sleep Apnea (DOSA). Risk factors include snoring, obesity or large neck circumference, and history of hypertension.

Yet because of the lack of awareness by the public and healthcare professionals, the vast majority of cases remain undiagnosed and therefore untreated, despite the fact that this serious disorder can have significant consequences, including death, as in Reggie White's case, explains Dr. Kent Smith co-director of DOSA.

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