Contact: Denise Bouillerce
LIVERMORE, CA— Problems sleeping may seem minor to most people, but studies have shown that some sleep disorders such as sleep apnea can lead to serious conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and stroke. To meet this health challenge, ValleyCare Health System has opened a Sleep Disorders Clinic at Valley Memorial Center in Livermore offering diagnosis, care and treatment for sleep apnea, insomnia, narcolepsy, shift-work related sleep problems and restless leg syndrome.
"Over the last decade we have recognized that sleep apnea and sleep disorders are major health issues," said Chirag Pandya, MD, the clinic’s medical director, and a ValleyCare Medical Foundation pulmonary and sleep disorders specialist with sub-specialty training in sleep medicine at Stanford University. "There is a definite need to treat sleep disorders in the Tri-Valley."
Part of the clinic’s comprehensive diagnosis process includes a sleep study which Dr. Pandya describes as "like spending a night at a hotel room." The patient arrives at 9 p.m. and makes him/herself comfortable in a bedroom setting with amenities including television and wi-fi. The patient spends one or two nights sleeping in a regular bed, but has sensors attached to the skin to monitor brain waves, breathing patterns, oxygen levels, heart rhythm, arm and leg movement and snoring. Home sleep studies are possible for some patients who have no other medical issues, and who meet certain criteria.
Obstructive sleep apnea (the most common form) occurs when throat muscles relax repeatedly during sleep and block the airway. The most prominent sign of sleep apnea is snoring, but other symptoms are: frequent breath stoppage, choking and gasping during sleep; frequently waking up at night; daytime tiredness; morning headaches, and increased risk of accidents. Up to 200,000 automobile accidents are related to untreated sleep apnea every year.
Once sleep apnea has been diagnosed, the major treatments are: 1)CPAP therapy – wearing a mask at night that uses compressed air to gently keep the airway opened, 2) oral appliances similar to mouth or bite guards and 3) surgery. Treatment is based on the degree of sleep apnea, often in collaboration with related specialists.
Sleep problems are not rare—1 in 6 men and 1 in 10-15 women will have some degree of sleep apnea or disordered sleep in their lifetime. Risk factors include people who are: overweight, post-menopausal, older, have large necks, smoke, or have a family history of sleep apnea.
For more information about the Sleep Disorders Clinic, call Dr. Pandya's Medical Foundation office at 925.454.4280.