Sometimes it’s easy to avoid prescribing potentially helpful tests for your patients because you don’t want to worry them with the time and cost associated with testing. Even if there may be affordable options, the stress may not be worth it if the patient doesn’t really need the testing.
However, even if there is a chance your patients may not test positive, it’s always better to know and treat rather than pretend it’s not a problem until it’s a bigger problem. Your patients rely on you to give them as much information as possible, and your clinical expertise is imperative to their long term health.
Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late
Waiting too long was a big problem for 58-year-old former Marine, Floyd Rowland. While distracted with many other health concerns like his wife’s two-time cancer diagnosis, elderly parents, and the death of his best friend, Rowland developed serious health problems that may have been prevented by earlier treatment.
You see, Rowland had Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) for a long time, and he knew he had this condition for many years. After a positive diagnosis from a sleep study in 2007, Rowland did not pursue treatment because he wanted to focus his energy and resources on his family members and their health concerns. “I just kept putting my own health on the back-burner,” said Rowland.
When OSA Leads to Much More
Rowland originally agreed to a sleep study after his wife noticed him snoring loudly in his sleep. He agreed to an in-lab sleep study, recounting the uncomfortable experience vividly, “You have to sleep in a strange bed with someone watching you on camera. You’re hooked up to multiple leads and with goo in your hair.”
He received an OSA diagnosis shortly thereafter, but ignored it to focus on his family’s other concerns. Fast forward several years, and Rowland undergoes another sleep study with horrifying results. His Apnea Hypopnea Index was an incredible 64, meaning he woke up 64 times per hour on average and stopped breathing for at least 10 seconds during each episode. Rowland’s sleep doctor commented that he was surprised Rowland was still alive.
The Link Between OSA and Other Conditions
As a doctor, you may already be aware that conditions, like OSA can lead to other, more serious complications down the road. The same was the case for Rowland who, 6 years after his OSA diagnosis, was also diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation, or AFib. He started having AFib attacks with his heart racing and found he was unable to stop it until treated with medication. His concerned wife consulted with his brother after she noticed Rowland falling asleep mid-conversation and occasionally while driving. “Apparently, [my brother] caught me not breathing.”
After listening to desperate pleas from his terrified family, he decided to consult with a doctor about his OSA as well as his AFib. His doctor wanted him to undergo another sleep study, but Rowland refused because he “wasn’t going through the nightmare of having someone watch over me again.” Rowland agreed to an at-home sleep test where he could be tested from the comfort of his own home, in his own bed.
This sleep test revealed his very severe sleep apnea which, after being left untreated for years, likely contributed to his AFib diagnosis. Rowland didn’t believe he could possibly be that sick, “but there it was in black and white,” he said.
The Difference Treatment Makes
Rowland’s wife burst into tears on Valentine’s Day 2017, but, this time, it was tears of joy–Rowland’s CPAP machine had finally come in the mail. “She was crying for happiness because I had finally done something about my sleep apnea.” And the results were absolutely life changing.
“I don’t fall asleep during the day anymore,” said Rowland. “I feel like a whole different person. I’m not waking up multiple times each night. I haven’t slept like that in 10 years!” Like most OSA sufferers, Rowland opted for CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure, therapy. He was initially worried about sleeping with a mask on every night, but found a more compact nasal apparatus that suits his lifestyle better.
Plus, after getting his OSA under control, Rowland was healthy enough to undergo a cryoablation for his AFib–a treatment that has all but cured his AFib side effects. “I have not to this day had another AFib attack. And I have more energy to do the things I enjoy.”
He credits his family and doctors with giving him a new lease on life. “Between my doctors, my persistent stubborn little brother and my lovely wife, I owe them my life,” he said. “If I had not gotten my sleep apnea taken care of, I would not have been able to fix my heart.”
Why A Partnership is Important to Your Practice
If you are a physician, cardiologist, member of American Heart Association, or just want to give you patients the most comprehensive treatment possible, it’s important that you consider a partnership with ApneaMed. ApneaMed’s Partner Programs provide you and your patients with the best options for their at-home sleep apnea testing and treatment needs. The In-Office Partnership is their best option and allows you to keep a home sleep testing unit in your office to lend out to patients at your discretion.
But we know that this may not be the best option for your patients or your practice. So, we also offer a Referral Partnership where you can refer patients to ApneaMed who you believe may benefit from at-home sleep testing for OSA. Should your patient receive an OSA diagnosis, ApneaMed’s patient care representatives will work directly with your patient to find a treatment option that works for them.
Lastly, ApneaMed also offers a Mail-Out Partnership that allows you, as a medical professional, to order a sleep test from ApneaMed on behalf of your patient. ApneaMed will then mail the unit to your patient, have it sent back, and have the results read by a board-certified sleep physician. Again, if your patient receives an OSA diagnosis, ApneaMed’s knowledgeable patient care representatives will work with your patient directly to find out which treatment will work best for them.
Rowland’s is not a unique case. Millions of Americans suffer from sleep apnea and many are not receiving the treatment they need to sleep better and maintain long term health. When left untreated OSA can lead to much more serious conditions like stroke, heart attack, heart disease, Type II Diabetes, cancer, or, in Rowland’s case, Atrial Fibrillation. Protect your patients and give them a better quality of life by partnering with ApneaMed and getting them the testing and treatment they need sooner.