Innovative Sleep Apnea Procedure Could Save US Healthcare System Billions

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Sleep Apnea Treatment Centers of America and Sleep Awareness Week Shed Light on Awareness, Treatment and Diagnosis

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“As Physicians, we had to find a better solution for sleep apnea sufferers,” Dr. Silveira said. “CPAP treatment manages the patient’s condition without ever addressing the underlying issues causing the sleep apnea. It is a bandaid on a very serious diseas

The week of March 2nd - 8th has been named Sleep Awareness Week with World Sleep Awareness Day being recognized on March 13th, the aim is to bring awareness to the health and financial risks associated with sleep related illnesses, costing the United States billions. In support, the Sleep Apnea Treatment Centers of America have turned to social media with an interactive contest and daily educational articles, they hope will virally inspire conversation regarding the disease.

The number of United States patients suffering with moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is approximately 23 million people, according to a study from the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School. The prevalence of OSA is twice as high in patients aged older than 60 years-of-age, and OSA-related costs will continue to go up as our demographics shift and the obesity epidemic continues. With the United States quickly becoming a population of older and obese adults, OSA will become more common.

The annual cost of untreated OSA in the United States is an astronomical $65 to $165 billion dollars, according to researchers in the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Beyond direct sleep related issues, OSA has a direct relationship to other illnesses, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension and stroke, causing the potential for healthcare costs to rise, especially as the large population of Baby Boomers are over 60s years-of-age.

Dr. Cary Shames, a medical director for the Americas at ResMed Corp., provided the keynote address at ASPA’s conference – entitled The Economic and Clinical Impact of Sleep Apnea – where he further illustrated the costs associated with untreated OSA.

“Research indicates there are $65 billion to $165 billion in annual costs related to sleep apnea,” he said. “Some $5 billion to $10 billion of that result from lost productivity, another $10 billion to $40 billion from traffic accidents related to fatigue, with $45 billion to $80 billion resulting from ‘hidden’ health care costs such as extra hospitalization, etc. Only $2 billion to $10 billion revolve around the cost to diagnose and treat OSA: a very small amount by comparison.”

The costs associated with OSA and the related risks is greater than the total cost of managing patients with asthma, heart failure, stroke and hypertension combined. OSA cost estimates from the 2010 report were based on initial diagnosis and treatment, medical costs due to co-morbidities, traffic accidents associated with OSA, workplace accidents, loss of productivity and the societal costs.

Currently, the most common way to treat sleep apnea sufferers is with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. While initial costs can make this seem like the best affordable treatment option, the main issue lies in the fact that more than 50 percent of patients are non-compliant with CPAP machines.

The largest expense, however, is from related conditions that develop due to the sleep disorder. Nearly every sleep apnea suffer also develops an additional medical condition due to the strain sleep apnea puts on their cardiovascular system.

Jeffrey L. Silveira, MD, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of SATCOA, became very concerned about his patients who continually stopped CPAP treatment putting them back at risk.

“As Physicians, we had to find a better solution for sleep apnea sufferers,” Dr. Silveira said. “CPAP treatment manages the patient’s condition without ever addressing the underlying issues causing the sleep apnea. It is a bandaid on a very serious disease.”

As a more effective treatment option, Dr. Silveira spent years refining the Radiofequency Ablation (RFA) of the tongue procedure. His result was an in-office, minimally invasive procedure that takes just a few minutes over the course of four to six treatments.

RFA works by directing small amounts of targeted energy to the base of the tongue in the back of the throat. Following the procedure, the treated area heals; tissue is tightened and thus reduced in size. This tightening and reduction directly prevents the tongue from blocking the airway while one sleeps, reducing and virtually eliminating sleep apnea.
“Today, the approximately 1 in 15 Americans afflicted with this disorder have an alternative to the life-long therapy of CPAP and several other uncomfortable, invasive treatments,” Dr. Silveira said. “Sleep apnea sufferers now can be treated with a radiofrequency ablation (RFA) procedure in an in-office setting.”

Overall, the SATCOA estimates a cost savings up to $200,000 throughout their lifetime if the individual receives RFA at the time of diagnosis, instead of mismanaging their condition. Sleep Apnea Treatment Centers of America are currently taking new patients and insurance covers the procedure in most cases.

“It is imperative that we advocate a Patient-Centered Approach to Sleep Disordered Breathing,” Dr. Silveira said, “educating patients on all available treatment options, instead of the current one size fits all approach with CPAP, allows the patient the opportunity to make an informed decision on which option is best suited for them.”

About Sleep Apnea Treatment Centers of America (SATCOA)
Sleep Apnea Treatment Centers of America is revolutionizing the field of sleep medicine by offering patients a safe, minimally invasive, curative alternative to a lifetime of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine usage, or other more invasive options. Sleep Apnea Treatment Centers of America currently are located in Albany, GA, Douglas, GA, Dublin, GA, Savannah, GA and Statesboro, GA. The company’s mission is to help sleep apnea patients and their families by offering the most effective treatment solution. To learn more, visit curemysleepapnea.com, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

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Heath Friar

Jeffery Silveira
@SleepApneaCure
since: 04/2012
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