Sleep apnea is a common condition among Americans, and while most people do not take the disorder seriously, prolonged treatment can make the situation worse. According to a recent study, hospitalized patients with a high-risk for sleep apnea are more likely to require emergency medical assistance during their hospital stay. Doctors suggest that treatment can be the key to reducing these hospital emergencies.

Hospital Emergencies

An extended stay at the hospital is a cause for concern. This usually means your condition is severe, and doctors will have to monitor you in case you have a medical emergency.  The scientists of the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University wanted to investigate the relationship between these hospital emergencies and high-risk sleep apnea patients.

Reasons for hospital emergencies include significant changes in blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, mental status, seizure, symptoms of a stroke, or chest pain. These are all serious and deadly changes within patients that require emergency care.

Initial screening involved 2,590 patients with sleep-disordered breathing. Once researchers established that patients with a high-risk for sleep apnea experienced more rapid response events during their hospital stay, they moved on to testing the effectiveness of positive airway pressure (PAP) treatment.

“When we treated these patients with appropriate sleep apnea therapy, the frequency of rapid response events decreased in compliant patients,” said Sunil Sharma, M.D., Associate Professor at Thomas Jefferson University and pulmonologist with Jefferson Sleep Disorders Center.

Sleep apnea is not a condition you should ignore. “The study suggests the important role of treating underlying sleep apnea to improve patient safety and quality in the hospital. We recommend a multi-centric prospective study to confirm these findings and determine the cost benefit of such initiative to improve hospital patient safety,” Dr. Sharma said.

Patients who ignore their symptoms and neglect treatment put themselves at even-further risk. Whether a patient is high-risk or low-risk, precautionary measures have to be taken.