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Blog Feature

By: Kevin Asp on February 19th, 2016

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COPD and Sleep Apnea: What Happens When Two Deadly Conditions Coexist

Sleep Disorders | Sleep Technologist Advice


COPD and Sleep Apnea: What you should watch out for...

We've previously written about the life threatening consequences of not treating sleep apnea.  The National Commission on Sleep Disorders Research estimates that there are approximately 38,000 deaths per year caused by sleep apnea. 

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is an umbrella term used to describe progressive lung diseases including emphysema, chronic bronchitis, refractory (non-reversible) asthma, and some forms of bronchiectasis.  This disease is characterized by increasing breathlessness.  COPD is actually more prevalent than many people think, contributes to frequent physician visits and hospitalizations, and is the 3rd leading cause of death in the U.S.

OSA occurs in about 10 to 15% of patients with COPD, a condition referred to as the overlap syndrome.  Although the prevalence of OSA is similar in patients with COPD as in the general population, individuals with both conditions without CPAP treatment have an increased risk of death and more hospitalizations from acute exacerbations. 

In other words, sleep is poor in COPD patients and sleep disorders such OSA have profound effects on those who already have COPD.  Because it's difficult to predict which COPD patients will also develop sleep apnea, it is important for sleep technologists to educate themselves on how to deal with patients with COPD at risk of developing or who have sleep apnea.

Understand COPD and Overlap Syndrome with Emerson Kerr

In this CECawarding online course module, Emerson reviews the pathophysiology of COPD, 
,the impact of sleep stages on breathing, and the interaction between COPD and OSA (the “overlap syndrome”).  The rationale for treatment of OSA in overlap syndrome and explanation of the impact on patient mortality as well as the incidence of re-hospitalization when overlap syndrome is present are also discussed.
If you are interested in learning more about the relationship between COPD and sleep apnea, check out our online module that expands on this subject here
Want to learn about COPD and Mild REM-related sleep apnea? Check out our CEC opportunity here!

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