May 29, 2015

Are You Using Your CPAP?

I wish the people who title some of these articles could use the correct terms. I had to cringe when I read this - "Are You Wearing Your CPAP?" To begin with, it is impossible to wear a CPAP machine and that is the reason for my title. Yes, if you have obstructive sleep apnea, you should use a type of CPAP, but you will only wear the mask.

The article in Diabetes in Control is a good reminder of what can happen when people do not use the CPAP equipment. In addition to elevated blood glucose levels, the person's hypertension was also worse and he was gaining weight. The patient was complaining about exhaustion, but eating right and taking his medications.

The office did not make any medication changes, but encouraged the patient to resume using his CPAP at night, and monitor. They established remote patient monitoring, and in the following week saw the blood pressure and glucose levels return to his targets. In addition, the weight started to drop. When contacted at the end of the week, the patient declared that after using the CPAP for one night, his energy was better and he thanked the office.

What lessons can be learned from this? For the patient:
  • Assess your sleep habits.
  • Respect sleep apnea as an underlying cause of increased blood pressure, glucose, weight, and more.
  • Have yourself screened for sleep apnea, and referred to sleep labs/sleep specialists if you suspect a sleep issue.
For the patient's provider:
  • If you know your patient has sleep apnea, ask the simple question, "Are you using your CPAP machine?"
  • If your patient is not using his/her CPAP, ask why. Sometimes the answer is simple, and a simple solution can turn things around. Sometimes it is because it is uncomfortable. If uncomfortable, encourage your patient to contact their sleep medicine team to help recommend a device that is more comfortable.
  • Follow up with your patients to make sure they use the recommended treatment. If they aren't using the recommended treatment, find out why, and help problem solve.
I can say from experience that using my CPAP machine makes my diabetes and blood pressure (hypertension) easier to manage. While my weight loss is not as rapid as I would like, using my CPAP is helping me avoid weight gain.

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