Treating sleep apnea may improve stroke outcomes

If treatment of sleep apnea occurs immediately after a stroke or mini-stroke, new research shows that it may improve patients’ neurological symptoms and daily functioning. More than 20 million adults in the U.S. have obstructive sleep apnea, which has been linked with increased risk for heart attack, hypertension, sudden death, stroke and faster progression of cardiovascular disease.

In a recent study, researchers found that stroke patients who were diagnosed with sleep apnea saw greater improvements in both neurological symptoms and daily ability to function when they used treatment for OSA. This was in comparison to patients with sleep apnea who only received typical medical care.

Sleep apnea and stroke

The study looked at 252 adults that were hospitalized for an ischemic stroke or a mini-stroke, which is known as a transient ischemic attack (TIA). Every participant was screened for sleep apnea. Researchers found that three-quarters of patients had sleep apnea and about two-thirds of those patients with sleep apnea were assigned to one of two interventions that included receiving CPAP therapy, training and encouragement. The other one-third with sleep apnea served as a control group and received usual medical care, plus recommendation at the end of the study to seek CPAP treatment.

Patients’ neurological symptoms and their ability to function in normal activities, such as walking and self care, were assessed at the beginning of the study and six months to one year later. At follow-up, all patients experienced improvement in both neurological symptoms and functional status. However, 59 percent of the patients who used CPAP had neurological symptoms scores at or close to normal. This was in contrast to 38 percent who had just received typical medical care.

If you treat sleep apnea early, the better your stroke outcome will be. Contact Dr. Mayoor Patel to discuss this further. What are some ways to help your patients now and in the future? My guess is that we will need to continue to build upon our relationships with physicians in our communities.

How to get a good night’s sleep infographic

Getting the proper amount of sleep each night is important for our patients’ health and well-being. As you know, this is because sleep is considered to be one of the biggest–and most underrated–factors in a person’s health. To help your patients get a better night’s sleep, take a look at the infographic below.

Feel free to download and print this infographic to share with your patients. Together we can provide our patients with the care they need to live healthier lives.

Team-based care works in dental sleep medicine

Just like any sporting event, teamwork means success. While you won’t be choosing a whole roster, you will need to find  a sleep physician to work with. Collaboration with a sleep physician allows your office to generate a diagnosis for your patient while also receiving referrals for sleep apnea treatment. Let’s learn more about this team-based care approach to treating sleep apnea.

Receive a diagnosis. This is important to note. Dentists DO NOT diagnose–it is important to remember you need a diagnosis from a sleep physician before beginning treatment. By building a rapport with a sleep physician you can send your patients their way for a proper diagnosis. Begin now by introducing yourself, and providing information about what you know and services you offer your patients–the more they know the better.

Receive referrals. Many are unaware of the availability of oral appliance therapy, which often is the same for many sleep physicians. By not only educating your patients, but sleep physicians, too, you can begin receiving referrals to your office. As you know, mild to moderate sleep apnea can often be treated with oral appliance therapy.

Physicians who understand oral appliance therapy can frequently refer patients to your office for proper care when CPAP therapy is not working or the patient doesn’t want to utilize a CPAP machine. It can also be beneficial for combination therapy with both the oral appliance and the CPAP machine.

To learn more about building a relationship with a sleep physician, sign up for an upcoming lecture, or schedule a consultation and shadowing options. Together we can improve your service offerings.

Use Dr. Patel’s educational book on sleep apnea in your practice

It has been more than three years since I teamed up with Dr. Dillard to create an educational book on sleep apnea. We created this book to help educate dentists and other physicians on sleep apnea, as well as the options available for treatment. This book can also be read by patients for further information.

If you have not yet picked up “Freedom from CPAP: Sleep Apnea Hurts, the Cure Doesn’t Have To” then I highly recommend you purchase at least one copy now. Whether you read it as a dentist or you buy multiple copies to keep in your waiting room, the choice is up to you. And if you have already purchased the book, what should you do next?

Let’s take a look at two ways you can use this educational book to help your patients and staff in the area of sleep apnea.

Educate your patients on sleep apnea

The main purpose of this sleep apnea book is to get your patients “in the know” about sleep apnea. We work to inform you and your patients on sleep apnea and what it is–because not everyone understands this often debilitating sleep disorder. By understanding sleep apnea, your patients can take proactive steps toward better health.

Whether you sell this book to your patient, or give it to them, allow your patient to read this book for further knowledge of sleep apnea and treatment options available. The goal of this book is to educate patients on what sleep apnea is and what treatment options, other than CPAP, are currently available for comfortable care.

Maintain an informed dental team

“Freedom from CPAP: Sleep Apnea Hurts, the Cure Doesn’t Have To” can also be a beneficial tool for your office to read themselves while also sharing the information with patients. Supply this book for your team, or have them purchase the book to improve their knowledge and understanding of sleep apnea.

While it is important for patients to understand this condition, it is even more important for your dental office to know sleep apnea, what it is and how to treat it. Knowledgeable staff members go a long way in helping with diagnosis and treatment of your patients.

The more your patients and staff know, the better they are equipped to take the next steps in sleep apnea recognition and treatment. Click here to purchase Freedom from CPAP: Sleep Apnea Hurts, the Cure Doesn’t Have To from Amazon.