Jun 102013

And so to sleep: Dr. Virginia de los Reyes, head of the Lung Center of the Philippines Sleep Lab and Sleep Disorders Clinic, with Philippine Society of Sleep Medicine’s Dr. Boots Instrella and Dr. Jonalyn Ang  

MANILA, Philippines – Just when you thought you’re off to peaceful slumber and the sweetest of dreams, snoring away your exhaustion you may actually be suffering from a serious sleep disorder.

The Lung Center of the Philippines (LCP) is ensuring that more Filipinos with sleeping disorders will be diagnosed and treated, as it launches a new sleep laboratory unit equipped with the latest Philips Respironics sleep diagnostic system. The new LCP sleep lab unit is capable of performing diagnostic and titration services for adults and children. It has the latest etCO2 system (End Tidal Carbon Dioxide System) for better detection of respiratory events in children. LCP is only the second sleep lab in the country to acquire this. The sleep lab can also do full video recording for seizure detection and diagnosis of abnormal sleep behavior.

One of those sleep disorders is the very common and usually left undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea, which is a disorder where a person’s airway collapses, causing breathing to stop repeatedly while sleeping.

“Even if there’s the usual clinical manifestation and we already have high suspicion that someone has obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), we still need a sleep study in order to confirm the diagnosis, and to guide decisions regarding its management,” said Dr. Virginia de los Reyes, head of the Lung Center of the Philippines Sleep Lab and Sleep Disorders Clinic. “The sleep study will also help to find out whether it’s a mild, moderate or severe sleep apnea. That would also guide the kind of treatment or management that we will give the patient.”

According to Dr. de los Reyes, OSA is one of the most common sleep disorders. The pause in breathing can happen 30 times or more times per hour. This can result in serious health problems such as heart attack, stroke, heart failure, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and even high blood pressure.

She also noted that Asians don’t have to be obese to have OSA, compared to their Caucasian counterparts. “Meaning, Asians don’t necessarily have to be obese to be prone to have sleep apnea and are at higher risk to have more severe OSA. The reason for this is that the base of the skull is narrower compared to Caucasians or the Europeans, that’s why the posterior pharyngeal space — the area where the obstruction happens — is narrower.”

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But this doesn’t mean that obesity is not a risk factor.

“One of the risk factors still is obesity. It’s important that people maintain their ideal body weight. For patients who already have sleep apnea, they should also avoid alcohol intake because the alcohol acts as a depressant of the pharyngeal dilator muscle activity. They’re also advised to stop smoking because it causes inflammation of the upper airway,” Dr. de los Reyes said regarding the particular lifestyle and habits that can influence the development or increase of OSA.

Through the new sleep lab, doctors can easily diagnose OSA and all kinds of other sleep disorders as patients undergo a simple process of sleeping through the night.

“They just sleep during their usual sleep time. Before sleeping we put some electrodes and sensors to check their brain waves. We put nasal thermistors and pressure transducers to detect the airflow. We place a microphone in the throat area to check for snoring. We also put chest belts and an abdominal belt to detect the breathing effort and pattern, among others,” Dr. de los Reyes explained  the procedures during the sleep test.

For treatment purposes, the Lung Center is also capable of doing PAP (positive airway pressure) Titration. According to Dr. de los Reyes, this entails a nasal mask that is connected to a tube and a pressure generator, which pumps out pressure through the tube and through the nose. “It acts like an air splint, to keep the airway open, in order to correct the apnea,” she added.

The Lung Center is home to the most affordable sleep test in the country today. It is also the first to acquire the new Philips Alice 6 Polysomnograph System or simply, sleep study equipment, which is the latest in Philips’ sleep diagnostic system technology in the Philippines to fully conform to international standards, specifically with the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

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