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Specialists Call For Review Of Sleep Services

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Specialists Call For Review Of Sleep Services

Wellington, NZPA - Sleep services are in need of an urgent review, a specialist says.

New Zealand sleep services were poorly resourced to deal with the current burden of sleep apnoea, with up to 10 percent of the adult population suffering, Christchurch Hospital sleep specialist Michael Hlavac said today.

In most cases, the condition was not recognised and not treated and this was a major concern given the known of consequences of untreated OSA, he said

Sleep apnoea is associated with heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure and diabetes.

It can occur when a person stops breathing for up to 60 seconds while sleeping due to the airway collapsing, causing a blockage in the throat or upper airway.

This can occur hundreds of times a night and after each episode patients briefly awaken with a gasping, snorting or choking sound.

"Even more concerning is the increased rates of sleep apnoea in Maori and Pacific people, who are much less able to access health services, and generally have more severe disease," Dr Hlavac, who is also chairman of the NZ branch of the Australasian Sleep Association, said.

A recent economic analysis had shown that untreated sleep apnoea cost the country an estimated $40 million per year, whereas diagnosing and treating OSA was one of the most cost-effective interventions in the health system, he said.

He urged health authorities and the Government to develop resources so New Zealanders could be diagnosed and treated.

"We also need resources to educate the general population and health workers about sleep apnoea.

"If you awake feeling tired each day or if you hear your partner stop breathing when they are asleep and then briefly wake gasping for breath they need to see a doctor."

New Zealand sleep specialists were currently developing a national strategy to increase awareness of OSA and other sleep disorders, Dr Hlavac said.

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