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By: Kevin Asp, CRT, RPSGT on December 17th, 2015

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What is Obesity Hypoventilation Syndrome?

Sleep Technologist Advice


What should sleep technologists know about obesity hypoventilation syndrome (OHS) ?

What is obesity hypoventilation syndrome?

Obesity hypoventilation syndrome, also commonly known as OHS is a breathing disorder that affects some obese people. In OHS, poor breathing results in too much carbon dioxide (hypoventilation) and too little oxygen in the blood (hypoxemia).

What's the relationship between OHS and sleep?

Most people with obesity hypoventilation syndrome also have obstructive sleep apnea, a condition characterized by snoring, brief episodes of apnea (cessation of breathing) during the night, interrupted sleep and excessive daytime sleepiness. In OHS, sleepiness may be worsened by elevated blood levels of carbon dioxide, which causes drowsiness ("CO2 narcosis"). Other symptoms present in both conditions are depression, and hypertension (high blood pressure) that is difficult to control with medication. 

If OHS is suspected, various tests are run to confirm. The most important initial test is the demonstration of elevated carbon dioxide in the blood. To distinguish various subtypes, polysomnography is required. SInce OHS can lead to fatal consequences if not treated properly, it is important that technologists understand the various therapy options that are available for OHS.

Treatment options for obesity hypoventilation syndrome

At the 2015 Fall Course in Branson Missouri, Emerson Kerr, RRT, RPSGT discussed non-invasive ventilation and pressure support as treatment options for hypoventilation. 

In his lecture, which is available for review as an online course module (with CECs and at a discounted price for AAST members), Mr. Kerr discusses the appropriate use of adaptive pressure support therapy. Sleep technologists should expect to learn how to identify appropriate sleep related breathing disorders for these therapies, a review of case examples and a review of device function in this learning module.

Want to know more about the relationship between obesity and hypoventilation?

Then you should check out Dr. Rosenberg's analysis of the relationship between obesity and hypoventilation in his Case of The Month No.4

This CEC eligible module surveys a diagnostic study that shows features consistent with a diagnosis of obesity hypoventilation syndrome along with a discussion of the diagnostic criteria for this disorder and a review of the pathophysiology.

Also make sure to check out our:

Prepackaged CEC Learning Activity Program


About Kevin Asp, CRT, RPSGT

Because of the implementation of his best practices of Implementing Inbound Marketing in its Medical Practice, he turned the once stagnant online presence of Alaska Sleep Clinic to that of "The Most Trafficked Sleep Center Website in the World" in just 18 months time. He is the President and CEO of inboundMed and enjoys helping sleep centers across the globe grow their business through his unique vision and experience of over 27 years in sleep medicine.

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