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Did Sleep Medicine Help Boost U.S. Life Expectancy?

Filed in
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • diabetes
  • heart disease
  • Sleep apnea
  • mortality

American Academy of Sleep Medicine  |  Mar 16, 2011
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Life expectancy hit an all-time high in 2009, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An American born in 2009 can now expect to live about 78 years and two months, a two month increase compared to 2008. Only 2.4 million Americans died in 2009, an all-time low and the 10th consecutive yearly decrease. As usual, women (80.6 years) had a longer life expectancy than men (75.7 years).

The CDC speculates that vaccinations, public health measures against smoking and better overall medical treatment for the life span improvements. Sleep medicine may be able to share some of the credit.

Deaths from heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes – three diseases commonly associated with sleep apnea - all decreased in 2009. This raises the question, is an increase in awareness and treatment of sleep apnea contributing to these rates and helping Americans live longer?

Research shows that people with untreated severe sleep apnea are more than twice as likely to die. Even moderate cases increase the overall risk of death by 17 percent.

Diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea may prevent countless deaths from heart disease. The pauses in breathing from untreated obstructive sleep apnea can put enormous strain on your heart. Heart disease risks associated with this include coronary heart disease, heart attack and congestive heart failure.

CPAP and other sleep apnea treatments may also slow the development of diabetes. Sleep disorders that disrupt sleep, including but not limited to sleep apnea increases the likelihood of getting diabetes.

Treatment can also limit sleep loss related to sleep apnea, which is a factor in the development of Alzheimer's disease. CPAP also helps slow the cognitive decline of people with Alzheimer's.

Think you might have sleep apnea? Find out by scheduling an overnight sleep study for diagnosis. it could save your life in the long run and help.

Note: The average life expectancy in the U.S. is still among the lowest of the developed western nations. The National Research Council reports that the heavy smoking in the past five decades has long figured for the slower growth in life expectancy. The national obesity epidemic is expected to offset the eventual gains from the recent reduction in smoking. Excess body weight a primary risk factor for heart disease and diabetes as well as sleep apnea.

1 Comment

  1. 1 Fahri 10 Nov
    CPAPs are one HCPCS code which includes APAPs. BUT bi-levels have difeerfnt HCPCS codes for the various types of advanced therapy they provide. So there are more than two types of PAP devices.I mentioned the no mask typo earlier. There is a brand name NoMask mask but it doesn't fit into your reference descriptions.Full face masks come w/adjustable headgear just as all the PAP masks that I know of do.Nasal cushion masks do NOT cover the mouth. Nasal pillows do NOT cover the mouth. The oro-nasal masks such as the Resmed Liberty do. To the best of my knowledge there are 4 styles of mask, each style having its own HCPCS code: full face, nasal cushion, nasal pillows and oro-nasal. I'm not sure yet whether there will be a separte HCPCS code for the new Respironics FitLife mask yet or not.There is at least one, and I think two, relatively new PAPs, one each from Resmed and Respironics, that were developed specifically for Cheyne-Stokes and central apneas. The Resmed Adapt SV comes to mind.PAP pressure is NOT at all dependent on the severity of one's sleep apnea. Many w/severe OSA need relatively low PAP pressure whereas many w/mild OSA need quite high PAP pressure.CPAPs deliver pressure during both inhalation AND exhalation. At least Resmed and Respironics CPAPs have a form of expiration pressure relief (Resmed's proprietary name is EPR, and Respironics' propriety name is C-Flex or A-Flex). They just don't provide a specific IPAP and EPAP pressure nor are they able to provide as much relief of expiration pressure as the bi-levels. Timed bi-level pressure is not the same type of bi-level as the straight or auto bi-level BPAPs (Respironics proprietary name) or VPAPs (Resmed's proprietary name). The timed breathing bi-levels are an entirely difeerfnt HCPCS code.THE most important feature of ANY form of PAP device is that it be FULLY DATA CAPABLE. The entry level, basic compliance data only PAP devices have little value to patient or doctor as the patient encounters problems acclimating to PAP therapy. Compliance data is useful ONLY to the DME providers so that they can provide proof of compliant usage to insurances when and if requested.It is the face mask fit leaks that reduce PAP therapy effectiveness rather than the PAP itself. Once the needed PAP device and pressure setting(s) are determined the MASK becomes the most important KEY to PAP therapy success. The ability of CPAPs to compensate for leaks is limited.Most PAPs are warrantied by the manufacture for 2 years, there are some warranteed for 3 years. Most all insurances consider 5 years to be the life of a PAP. A service warranty is a waste of money.Top of the line CPAPs and APAPs can be purchased from reputable online DME suppliers for considerably less than a $1000.And it really should be pointed out to the patient that they shouldn't expect a miracle overnight. Most PAP patients require an acclimation period before they achieve successful, comfortable, relatively leak-free PAP therapy.