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Sleep problems 'a global epidemic'

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Sleep problems 'a global epidemic'

A group of Canterbury researchers are keen to highlight World Sleep Day tomorrow (16 March) and raise awareness about international research into the importance of healthy sleeping.

Sleep is a vital component of overall wellbeing, affecting the mental, physical and emotional health of adults and children.

Dr Michael Hlavac, the Clinical Director of the Sleep Unit at Christchurch says sleep problems are considered a global epidemic, with up to 45 percent of people experiencing conditions such as insomnia, restless legs syndrome, sleep deprivation, and sleep-related respiratory disturbances, such as obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA).

Dr Hlavac and is the principal investigator in an international study, the Sleep Apnea* Cardiovascular Study (SAVE), to investigate the links between OSA and cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes.

The SAVE study will determine if treating obstructive sleep apnoea can reduce the incidence of heart attacks, strokes and heart failure. Christchurch is one of 74 sites worldwide which have thus far recruited over 1500 participants and are aiming to enrol a total of 5000 patients over eight years.

"A major focus of World Sleep Day 2012 is OSA. About 10 per cent of middle-aged men and four per cent of middle-aged women in the general population have sleep apnoea, causing them to stop breathing at least 15 times or more in an hour of sleep."

For the study, the study team are seeking people aged 45-75 years to who snore loudly and have experienced a heart attack or stroke, angina, bypass surgery, a coronary artery stent or a transient ischemic attack (TIA).

Researchers will be measuring the effectiveness of a sleep apnoea treatment known as CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure). The treatment uses a mask to push air into the airways of people who snore and stop breathing to help them breathe easier during sleep. Study participants will be randomly allocated to a CPAP treatment group or a group which continues to receive their normal medical care. Both treatment methods will be compared to determine their effectiveness.

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