The first time the term sleep apnea was mentioned was during 1965 in medical literature. When the condition was first recognized, the medical cause was still unknown. The original medical reports described the condition as patients suffering from increased levels of carbon dioxide and decreasing levels of blood oxygen often resulting in congestive heart failure. Prior to 1965, the condition was discovered by a physician at the beginning of the Twentieth century. He referred to the condition as Pickwickian syndrome. This is believed to reference The Pickwick Papers, a novel written by Charles Dickens. The novel described the symptoms of sleep apnea extremely accurately.
The Invention of the CPAP Machine
A non-surgical treatment was developed for sleep apnea in 1981. The invention was called a continuous positive airway pressure device or CPAP for short. The first CPAP machine was both noisy and bulky, but replaced towards the end of the 1980’s with a much quieter, more streamlined version. Once the CPAP machine became available, the medical community began raising awareness of the sleep disorder. This led to numerous individuals becoming identified who could be helped by the treatment. As the number of people impacted by the condition increased, public awareness rose and sleep clinics were established. In 1993, a study revealed almost one in every fifteen American have some form of sleep disorder.
The History of the CPAP
Prior to 1965, medical specialists classified obstructive sleep apnea or OSA an intermittent closing of the upper airway. The only treatment that was effective at this time was a tracheotomy. This procedure bypassed the obstruction in the upper airway. One of the most important discoveries in this field was the invention of the CPAP nasal mask in 1981. This increased both interest and research for the condition by the medical community. As time passed, there was a much greater understanding of sleep disorders came. The condition has received recognition as a potentially serious health issue.
The Individuals Impacted by Sleep Disorders
Sleep apnea is a common issue impacting nine percent of middle-aged women and 24 percent of middle aged men. Four out of every ten middle-aged females in Saudi Arabia and three out of every ten middle-aged men are affected. The patients in Saudi Arabia with severe coronary syndrome admitted to the coronary care unit received a diagnosis of OSA on the apnea hyopnea index. The risk of this condition is increasing due to the rise in obesity. According to recent studies, there is a connection between this disorder and the risks for cardiovascular mortality and morbidity. There has also been a relationship established between certain cardiovascular diseases such as arterial hypertension and OSA. There have been numerous studies conducted on large populations showing an association between the development of systematic hypertension and OSA. Evidence now supports an independent link between OSA, strokes, heart failure, arrhythmia and ischemic heart disease.
The Basis of the CPAP Machine
The CPAP device is based on the tongue and throat muscles collapsing into the airways while the individual is sleeping. The resulting airway blockage messages the brain that the body must breathe. This results in the individual waking up with a loud, gasping breath. When the person has a mild version of this condition, they will experience between five and fifteen of these types of episodes for every hour they sleep. When the individual has a severe form of sleep apnea, this number increases to thirty or more.
The CPAP device operates by constantly blowing pressurized, gentle air through the airway. When the air pressure is increased, the airway is prevented from collapsing while the individual breathes. When CPAP therapy is used correctly, individuals with sleep apnea will see an improvement in the quality of their lives. The benefits include a decrease in breathing obstructions, less snoring and a decrease in sleepiness during the day. Research has revealed a CPAP machine can reduced health issues connected to sleep apnea including cardiovascular issues, depression and high blood pressure.