OSA: Tapping a new market

Monday, April 26, 2010

The typical candidate for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is an overweight, middle-aged male. In fact, men are eight to nine times more likely to be diagnosed than women. But women can also suffer from the disease, points out Robin Randolph, marketing manager North America for Fisher & Paykel, in an HME News TV interview. You just have to know what to look for, she said.

“Men have classic symptoms,” said Randolph. “They have been asked to move out of the bedroom by their wife because of very loud snoring or they are excessively sleepy during the daytime. Women present much differently to the physician. They say, ‘I am fatigued; I am depressed, irritable or have memory loss.’”

Such complaints lead to diagnoses such as hormonal problems, hypothyroidism, depression or even hypochondria, she said.

“If we can educate the physician that a woman’s sleep is presented a little bit different than the male’s, we could identify those women (with OSA),” said Randolph.

Fortunately, there is more research being done, not only on OSA in women, but also in children, said Randolph. As caregivers, women are well-positioned to identify sleep problems in their partners and their children. “(Children) two to eight years of age are the ones who typically will present with OSA,” said Randolph. “We know that 80% of children may be successfully treated with a tonsillectomy and 20% will need further support with a device.”

HME providers can do their part by reaching out to referral sources, she said.

“Go out to the referral sources that you are already calling on and help educate them about these other two deserving opportunities to identify a very dangerous disease,” she said.

To view the interview, go to www.hmenews.com/video.php.