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Screening and assessment for obstructive sleep apnea in primary care

Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common sleep related breathing disorder.

Regular stopping of breathing during sleep results in activation of oxygen free radicals and an oxidative stress response. This results in damage to blood vessels and arterial plaque formation, predisposing the patient to "throwing of clots" resulting in embolism or stroke.

Sleep disorders are common, but rarely addressed by family doctors.

A Canadian based population study found that patients do not often report sleep disturbance because symptoms are chronic and difficult to explain (for example; daytime functioning complaints or insomnia).

Patients present to their doctor with known sleep apnea risk factors, such as obesity and cardiovascular disease, but are not screened for symptoms, assessed, or referred to a sleep specialist for diagnosis and treatment for this disorder.


More education is needed.

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