Sleep Apnea can be treated
Dr. Atul NC Peters
In recent times, weight loss surgeries have become a very common treatment to cure Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). While it is not the only way to treat people with OSA, most patients having the problem are obese. CPAP or BiPAP therapies have been the latest, most advanced and effective forms of treatment for people suffering from OSA.
Fat around the neck and throat area is what causes the wind pipe to choke which ultimately leads to shallow breathing when the patient is in deep sleep. Shallow breathing can also turn into no breathing while sleeping which is known as Apnea. A person suffering from OSA can experience these apnic spells every night and with the worsening of the condition, a patient can start experiencing them in the daytime as well. These are known as Apneic episodes.
These Apneic episodes can cause daytime sleepiness, hypertension, and increased risk of stroke, coronary artery disease and congestive heart failure. The major cause and risk factor for this condition is obesity which as the research suggests can be improved by losing weight and eliminating the risk for heart disorders and metabolic consequences related to both OSA and obesity.
Some researchers suggest that moderate OSA can even lead to cardiovascular complications of hypertension, cardiac arrhythmias, and increase in the risk of strokes, coronary artery disease and congestive heart failure. Gastric bypass surgery can be done to achieve a set weight goal or stable weight and then diagnostic sleep testing can be done via Polysomnography to identify if patients have achieved resolutions for OSA.
An effective treatment for severe or complicated obesity is Bariatric or Gastric Bypass surgery which helps improve the cardiovascular risk factors and metabolic markers in majority. After surgery patients may experience the various benefits like improved mobility, stamina, cardiovascular status, diabetes. They may be well enough to think their OSA is cured but it is highly recommended and advised to not stop using CPAP or BiPAP machines even after going through the gastric bypass surgery.
(The author is Director, Department of Bariatric, Minimal Access and General Surgery, Max Hospital Saket, New Delhi)