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Important Information About Sleep Apnea

What is sleep-disordered breathing (SDB)?

SDB describes a number of night time breathing disorders:

• Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
• Central Sleep Apnea (CSA)
• Nocturnal hypoventilation
• Cheyne-Stokes respiration (CSR)

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)?

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a common and often undiagnosed sleep disorder. People with sleep apnea stop breathing many times throughout the night. The episodes of apnea (not breathing) are caused by soft tissue in the throat collapsing.

What are the signs and symptoms of sleep apnea?

• Snoring

• Occasionally waking up with a choking or gasping sensation 

• Irregular breathing during sleep 

• Witnessed apneas (stop breathing for greater than or equal to 10 seconds)

• Restless sleep/heavy sweating

• Recurrent awakenings or insomnia 

• Frequent trips to the bathroom during the night

• Waking up with a very sore or dry throat

• Morning headaches

• Excessive daytime sleepiness

• Sleepiness while driving

• Forgetfulness, mood changes, and decreased interest in sex

• Lack of energy
• Short-term memory loss
• Depression

• Acid reflux or heartburn


How common is OSA?

Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form of sleep-disordered breathing. Over one in four Canadian adults (26%) are at high risk for having obstructive sleep apnea. The risk is much higher if you have high blood pressure, diabetes or weight gain.


Is having OSA dangerous to my health?

People with obstructive sleep apnea are more likely to:

• Suffer a heart attack or stroke
• Have a high blood pressure
• Develop diabetes
• Be overweight
• Be involved in car accidents

Prevalence of Sleep Apnea In Conjunction with Other Conditions

Why sleep apnea and cardiovascular disease?

There is a high prevalence of sleep apnea in patients with cardiovascular (heart) disease, and it is proven that sleep apnea therapy can lower blood pressure (4mm Hg to 10mm Hg reduction with CPAP therapy).


Why sleep apnea and weight gain?

Millions of healthcare dollars are allocated towards overweight patients with treatments such as bariatric surgery. Patients with OSA have three times the risk of complications during these surgeries than those without, so treating sleep apnea before surgery can greatly decrease the risk of complication. There are a few hormones that could be affected by OSA, such as  - ghrelin and leptin.

What is the likelihood of sleep apnea in women?

Important for women to note is that menopause may play a significant role in the severity of OSA. 41% of women with OSA complain only of fatigue and/or morning headaches. Women often present with atypical sleep apnea symptoms and are often misdiagnosed with diseases (such as depression) that have overlapping symptoms:

• Women with obstructive sleep apnea snore or suffer daytime sleepiness, but:

• Less witnessed apneas

• Present with insomnia, cardiac palpitations, depression, morning headaches

How is OSA treated?

A CPAP machine and mask worn while sleeping effectively treats obstructive sleep apnea by delivering compressed air to support breathing during sleep. CPAP treatment is widely regarded as the gold standard of treatment for sleep apnea and can:

• Help those with sleep apnea start to wake up feeling refreshed again
• Significantly improve quality of life
• Help protect against a variety of serious health risk

When it comes to the early and immediate benefits of sleep apnea treatment, 80% of patients feel benefits within 2 weeks of initiating CPAP therapy.

What does CPAP stand for?





You may hear the term CPAP used in all applications of PAP (positive airway pressure) therapy; however, there are two different kinds of PAP treatment you will hear about at Provincial Sleep Group:

• CPAP - continuous (or fixed) positive airway pressure
• APAP - automatic (or auto-adjusting) positive airway pressure


Are there alternatives to CPAP treatment?

There are alternatives to CPAP sleep apnea therapy; however, PAP treatments are generally accepted as the gold standard for sleep disordered breathing.

Alternatives include:

• Surgery

• Dental appliances

• Drug therapies

• Tracheostomy

• Pacing (upper airway, cardiac)

How can Provincial Sleep Group help?

Our team of experienced respiratory therapists and nurses provide equipment, support, and education to individuals who suffer from OSA, or individuals who expect they might.


Who should be tested for Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

• Do you snore?
• Are you excessively tired during the day?
• Have you been told you gasp or stop breathing when you sleep?
• Do you have high blood pressure?
• Do you have diabetes?
• Do you have morning headaches?
• Is your neck size >16 inches?

If you answered yes to two or more of these questions, you should have a sleep test; however, you can take our Sleep Quiz to be definitively pre-screened, today. 

Why choose Provincial Sleep Group?

Locally owned and operated clinics
NO CHARGE 2-night sleep test
• All assessments, testing and follow-up care done by a Registered Respiratory Therapist or Registered Nurse
• Every test is scored and interpreted by an independent Respirologist
• Lifelong follow-up and support: 1 day, 1 week, 2 weeks, 6 weeks, 1 year and beyond