Sleep Apnoea and Obesity

Sleep apnoea, or obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is a relatively common condition in Adelaide and Australia, where people experience episodes or obstructed breathing while they are asleep.

If patients have severe sleep apnoea, they may stop breathing over 30 times in a night! Sleep apnoea is independently associated with increased risk of stroke, cancer, and death.

There is a complex and intimate relationship between sleep apnoea and obesity. Lack of sleep can cause increased weight, and increased weight can cause lack of sleep. People with sleep apnoea and obesity are encouraged to lose weight, however there is not enough consideration behind how to achieve this.

Continuous positive airways pressure (CPAP) is an effective way to manage sleep apnoea, however it does not treat the cause. CPAP is also not well tolerated, and a lot of patients do not use their CPAP!

There are operations to open your throat, including uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UVPPP), however this may not be the best options for patients with a BMI ≥ 35 and a sleeve gastrectomy or gastric bypass would provide the most benefit.

Evidence suggests that all patients with a BMI ≥ 35 and OSA would benefit from weight loss surgery to improve their health, quality of life and life expectancy.

There is evidence from studies that shows over 50% of patients have significant improvement or even ‘cure’ their sleep apnoea following weight loss surgery.[1] Despite these excellent results, not enough patients are having their options discussed.

Sleeve gastrectomy or gastric bypass are safe and effective operations, that improve the life of patients with sleep apnoea. Dr Balalis provides all of these options in Adelaide for patients with obesity and sleep apnoea.

Dr Balalis recently presented information on sleep apnoea and obesity to a large group of respiratory physicians in Adelaide, to continue to improve on the communication channels between specialists, for the benefit of patients.

It is important to discuss all options with patients, and to seek the advice of specialists when dealing with sleep apnoea and weight loss surgery.

For further information, please contact Dr Balalis.

[1] Sillo et al. The impact of bariatric surgery on the resolution of obstructive sleep apnoea. BMC Res Notes. 2018; 11:385.

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