November 10, 2013

The Future of Sleep Medicine - The Perfect Storm

A "perfect storm" is an expression that describes an event where a rare combination of circumstances will aggravate a situation drastically. The term is also used to describe an actual phenomenon that happens to occur in such a confluence, resulting in an event of unusual magnitude.

That is how I would described what happened with the diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea and why "righting the ship" to get those who need help will be very difficult.

The first circumstance contributing to the perfect storm is the condition itself. Sleep apnea was original considered to be a rare disease that affected only middle-aged overweight men. It was originally called Pickwickian syndrome after the character from Dicken's novel "The Pickwick Papers" - Fat boy Joe. It was something that a physician might see one or two cases in their entire working career....

In fact, it is a common and highly prevalent condition - that up until the mid 1980s was treated by means of a surgical intervention - a tracheotomy. The advent of Positive Airway Pressure therapy invented Colin E. Sullivan changed everything.

But how to diagnose it and how to dispense the therapy....

(To be continued)

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