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J Med Eng Technol. 2013 Feb;37(2):135-43. doi: 10.3109/03091902.2012.754509.

Novel parameters for evaluating severity of sleep disordered breathing and for supporting diagnosis of sleep apnea-hypopnea syndrome.

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Department of Clinical Neurophysiology, Seinäjoki Central Hospital, Seinäjoki, Finland.


Sleep apnea-hypopnea syndrome (SAHS) is a complex public health problem causing increased risk of cardiovascular diseases. Traditionally, evaluation of the severity of the disease is based on Apnea-Hypopnea Index (AHI). It is defined as the average number of apnea and hypopnea events per hour during sleep. However, e.g. the total duration and the morphology of the recorded events are not considered when evaluating the severity of the disease. This is surprising, as increasing the length of apnea and hypopnea events will most likely lead to longer and deeper oxygen desaturation events. Obviously, this is physiologically more stressful and may have more severe health consequences than shorter and shallower desaturation events. Paradoxically, the lengthening of apnea and hypopnea events may even lead to a decrease in AHI and oxygen desaturation index (ODI). This raises the question of whether additional information is needed besides AHI and ODI for the evaluation of the severity of SAHS and its potential cardiovascular consequences. In the present paper, several novel parameters are introduced to bring additional information for evaluation of the severity of SAHS. Besides the number of events per hour, that AHI and ODI takes into account, the duration of the breathing cessations and the morphology of the oxygen desaturation events are considered as important factors that may influence the daytime fatigue and also the related cardiovascular problems. In this study diagnostic ambulatory polygraphy recordings of 19 male patients were retrospectively analysed. Importantly, the novel parameters showed significant variation amongst patients with similar AHI. For example, the correlation between AHI and the Obstruction severity-parameter was only moderate (r(2)=0.604, p<0.001). This suggests that patients with similar AHI may exhibit significantly different cardiovascular stress related to the disease. It is suggested that the present novel parameters might provide additional information over the currently used parameters and support the evaluation of the severity of SAHS.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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