Sleep apnea can increase your risk of ending up in the hospital for heart problems, diabetes complications, and even cancer. But once you’re there, it remains a danger and can increase your risk of serious complications.

Fortunately, according to a new study, sleep apnea treatment can help reduce those risks.

medical staff pushing a patient on cart

Deteriorating Patient Dangers

This study by researchers at Thomas Jefferson University utilized the emergency rescue system at the hospital, known as the rapid response system (RRS). This system is designed to spring into action when patients begin to deteriorate.

To see whether patients with sleep apnea had a higher number of RRS events, researchers screened nearly 2600 obese patients. Patients received a questionnaire for sleep disordered breathing, and were divided into high-risk and low-risk categories. The 76% of patients that were found to be high-risk were further subjected to a comprehensive sleep evaluation and started on CPAP treatment, though some were migrated to other forms of positive airway pressure like BiPAP.

They found that high-risk patients had about 43 RRS events per 1000 patients while low-risk patients had only about 26 per 1000. When patients were compliant with their PAP treatment, they had a very low number of RRS events, about 17 per 1000, compared to the high numbers for those who weren’t compliant, about 53 per 1000, comparable to the RRS for those who didn’t get any PAP, about 56 per 1000.

CPAP’s Ongoing Compliance Problem

While this study shows a remarkable benefit for patients who use their PAP treatment, it also shows that the treatment fails a large number of patients who depend on it. In this study, only about two-thirds of patients who were prescribed CPAP (471/677, 70%) were compliant with the treatment.

Although this is higher than many studies show CPAP compliance rates, it’s also important to remember that compliance in this case only had to be for the length of the hospital stay, an average of about 7 days. And all of these patients had their CPAP machines professionally adjusted. Some were even switched to alternative PAP therapies like BiPAP and Auto-PAP. If only two-thirds of patients are able to comply with CPAP during a hospital stay, how many of these patients will continue to use it once they are discharged?

It’s clear that we need a good alternative to CPAP or else a large portion of the population with sleep apnea will continue to be at risk.

Fortunately, we have an alternative. Oral appliances can help many people who are unable to tolerate treatment with CPAP.

If you are unhappy with CPAP, but don’t want to go back to the risks of sleep apnea, we can help. Please call (402) 493-4175 for an appointment with an Omaha sleep dentist at the Advanced Dental Sleep Treatment Center.