Sleep Apnea Device Offers Faster Diagnosis

Sleep apnea in older women may be linked to the development of memory problems and dementia, says a new study.

An accurate sleep apnea diagnosis usually requires an overnight stay in a sleep center, but researchers at the University of Texas Arlington are hoping to change that. According to Medical Xpress, a bioengineering team from the university has been developing an ultrasonic sensor system to diagnose the condition without excessive time or money spent.

A sleep center diagnosis can cost as much as $2,000 per patient, noted UT Arlington Bioengineering chairman Khosrow Behbehani.

“Making detection of this insidious disease more affordable will allow people affected with the disease to be diagnosed,” Behbehani said. “For some, the cost is such a barrier that they may opt to continue to suffer rather than to be diagnosed.”

The device works by attaching ultrasonic sensors to a patient’s neck during sleep. Sound waves are sent across the neck, detecting whether the patient’s airway has been blocked and is restricting airflow to the lungs. The resulting data can help physicians diagnose sleep apnea more quickly and provide better care for their patients.

Current detection methods are far more uncomfortable, Medical Xpress reported, with patients being asked to spend multiple nights in a sleep laboratory as a wide variety of electrodes are attached to their body.

Physicians are already greeting the news with welcome.

“The technologies he’s developing will allow us to take a better look at our patients diagnostically,” said John Burk of Sleep Consultants. “In addition, it may be a very significant step in monitoring the adequacy of treatment.”

According to Medical Xpress, sleep apnea affects about 15 percent of American adults. The chronic condition can eventually lead to hypertension and heart failure.

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