Sleep apnea

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This is a bit of a pet topic here at OWLS, and one that we feel is often not adequately addressed.  Sleep apnea is common, underdiagnosed, and a preventable cause of sudden death.  It is also very difficult to loose weight when people are not able to sleep properly.

Anyway, we have recently had a thourogh review of the medical literature on sleep apnea at our monthly journal club.  We were also lucky enough to have Dr Akram Khan, sleep physician from OHSU, available for expert advice.  The main points that came up were that four out of every five patients presenting for weight loss surgery have obstructive sleep apnea, and that surgical weight loss only cures sleep apnea 25-50% of the time.

This is why we require diagnostic sleep studies in all patients undergoing surgery at OWLS.  In addition, we recommend all patients with sleep apnea continue to use  CPAP until undergoing a follow-up sleep study one year after surgery.  Dr Khan also suggested that an auto-titrating CPAP machine is often much better tolerated as people loose weight after surgery, as the required CPAP pressure may change rapidly.

In summary, please don’t throw away your CPAP machine after surgery, keep using it until you have a follow-up sleep study.  If you find it is blowing too hard then ask your sleep physician whether an auto-titrating machine may be right for you.

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