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Home Industry News Sleep treatment ‘could be available on NHS’

Sleep treatment ‘could be available on NHS’

26th March 2008

A type of treatment to help sufferers of sleep apnoea may be made available on the NHS, the British Thoracic Society (BTS) has claimed.

Sleep apnoea is a disorder in which involves irregular breathing during sleep due to repeated collapse of the upper airway. This causes restricted breathing for periods of about ten seconds each time, during which the sufferer wakes briefly then resumes rest.

Because this can happen hundreds of times each night, it can lead to excessive sleepiness the next day and poor concentration.

But the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) looks set to approve continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) for those with moderate to severe cases of the condition.

CPAP works by delivering a flow of air through a face mask via a small pump, keeping the airway fully open and enabling the sleeper to rest properly.

According to BTS, this type of treatment, which has been proven to increase alertness during the day and reduce other related symptoms, has been recommended by NICE for availability through the NHS.

“Previously only half of those diagnosed with the condition in the UK have been able to access clinically proven treatment for the condition,” said Professor John Gibson, chair of the sleep apnoea group at BTS. “This is excellent news.”

The NHS defines the severity of sleep apnoea depending on the number of times the restricted breathing occurs in one hour. From five to 14 is “mild”, while “moderate” is determined as between 15 and 30.

Severe sufferers experience more than 30 events in an hour.

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