Air masks do keep people from choking while asleep

May 6th, 2009 - 2:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, May 6 (IANS) Researchers now have clinching evidence that special masks prescribed for sleep apnea - occasional choking during sleep - do work.
“Continuous Positive Airways Pressure masks are a common treatment to improve sleep of apneic patients” said Jong-Won Kim, from University of Sydney’s Brain Dynamics Group. “But the feedback from the patients as to their effectiveness was subjective,” he added.

Kim and team analysed sleep patterns of 113 patients with and without masks, finding that the masks helped improve sleeping patterns in 70 percent of cases.

Apnea is a disorder that can interrupt breathing and cause choking, even death, during sleep. Sufferers toss and turn and wake more frequently than non-sufferers. They are also more likely to snore, wake up frequently, be obese and are older in age.

They are dominantly male with moderate alcohol consumption, daytime sleepiness, hypertension, stroke and metabolic syndrome. Children as young as one or two years can also have the disorder, which can be very worrisome for parents and families.

“By wearing the mask people can sleep comfortably and without fear of choking in their sleep,” he informed.

“Interestingly, from this we found that patients with sleep apnea have a subtle but different brain activity when asleep,” Kim said.

“Sleep apnea in children may be related to death and loss of brain cells that lead to underdevelopment. So it is vital that doctors definitely know that their prescribed method will provide a sound sleep for their patients,” Kim commented.

Kim’s team is currently studying 5,000 patients at Seoul Hospital to see if their method might be helpful in diagnosing other sleep disorders, said a Sydney release.

These findings will be published in Friday’s issue of Physical Review Letters.

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