January 06, 2011

Sleep Apnea and Healthy People 2020

The sleep community realized a small victory last year. It could be a large victory, it depends on how our fragmented community decides to move forward.

The Department of Health and Human Services develops, every 10 years, a set of objectives to guide health policy for the citizens of the United States.
Quoting from the web site:

Healthy People provides science-based, 10-year national objectives for improving the health of all Americans. For 3 decades, Healthy People has established benchmarks and monitored progress over time in order to:

  • Encourage collaborations across sectors.
  • Guide individuals toward making informed health decisions.
  • Measure the impact of prevention activities.

 Previously issues around improving sleep in young people and adults were spread across various topics. In the recently released document, sleep health has its own. The first objective listed under this topic:
SH-1     Increase the proportion of persons with symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea who seek medical evaluation.

That could be the mission statement of the association.

Now we can point to something that indicates the Federal government is concerned about the number of people with sleep apnea symptoms who aren't seeking medical evaluation.

Satisfactory accomplishment of the objective would to increase the number of persons with symptoms to seek medical evaluation by 2.5% over the course of the next 10 years.

Sounds do-able!

But in order to accomplish this objective we will need increase awareness about sleep apnea - believe it or not, there are still people who don't know what sleep apnea is - why would they; it is something that happens while they are sleeping and the only evidence of the problem could awakening unrefreshed and/or complaints from their bedpartner (if they still have one).

There is a second population that needs increased awareness - primary care medical professionals - family practice physicians, internists, nurse practitioners and physicians assistants. Let's include dentists and oral hygenists as well since they see people with symptoms more often than the others.

The ASAA will do its part. Not only making people aware of the negative consequences of not seeking medical evaluation, but, and more importantly, reminding people of the benefits of treatments - the improvement in the quality (not just the quantity) of life.

If you are concerned about undiagnosed/untreated sleep apnea in yourself or in someone important to you, contact the the American Sleep Apnea Association or visit the web site - http://www.sleepapnea.org/ - let's get to 3%.

Happy New Year!


Sandra said...

The hospital I work in does a screening on admission, looking for untreated obstructive sleep apnea. This has opened the door for lots of opportunity for education and has lead to many of our younger patients realizing that they do need to be tested, especially when they realize that the symptoms they have been having are directly related to the damage that untreated sleep apnea is already causing. When I see young people coming in for a sleep study, I jump for joy and congratulate them for taking that step to take care of their health and their future. I also make sure to educate the spouse or significant other about OSA and the effect it has had on their relationship. OSA is complicated, and easy to ignore, because it only happens in sleep.

Dody Jordahl said...

This is exactly what our industry needs, educating everyone about the importance of screening and treatment, not just the patients. We will do everything we can to spread the word and help get the 3%. Thanks Ed.