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Home Test Could Be Life-Changing For Apnea Sufferers And Their Sleep Partners

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Are you tired all day? Maybe you're gaining weight, and your blood pressure is a little high -- your problem may be something called 'sleep apnea.'

As CBS2's Dr. Max Gomez explained, there's an easy and safe home test to tell if you have it.

Sleep apnea means you stop breathing and wake up for tiny periods during the night, causing serious health problems. It can happen hundreds of times a night without the person even realizing it.

It used to take an expensive in-clinic sleep study to diagnose apnea, but not anymore.

Loud snoring or snorting which usually bothers the sleep partner more than the snorer is often the first sign of sleep apnea.

The classic apnea sufferer is an overweight male with a large belly and a thick neck, but sleep apnea can affect almost anyone.

"I woke up the entire house on vacation with not just snoring, but snoring with that awful snorting that you hear other people do, that's never going to be me," Patricia Markert said.

Aside from snoring, sleep apnea also carries serious health risks.

"High blood pressure, strokes, heart attacks, arrhythmia, we know it increases your risk of high blood glucose, diabetes, potentially gaining weight, and increased risk of being sleepy during the day, and increased risk of falling asleep driving your car," Dr. John Villa said.

Diagnosing apnea used to mean an overnight study in a sleep clinic, wired up to numerous electrodes and monitors.

Now, there's a new way.

A home sleep study lets patients stay in their own beds with test results that more closely resemble a normal night's sleep.

"They found out I stop breathing eleven times in one hour which scared me. My blood oxygen went from 96 to 82, that's not good. You need all the oxygen you can get for your brain cells, so that scared me into being ready for the next step," Markert said.

Dr. Villa said the data are just as good as an in-clinic study, and Patricia now uses  a C-PAP machine.

"I'm sleeping better. I'm getting more sleep. I wake up ready for the morning," she said.

Not only is the information from the home test good enough to diagnose sleep apnea, and prescribe treatment, but the cost is about a tenth of an in clinic sleep test.

Medicare pays about $2,000 for the in-clinic test, and about $200 for the home test.



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