New System Screens Heart Disease Patients for Severe Sleep Apnea

A new computer screening tool developed and patented by a University at Buffalo physician is helping to detect severe obstructive sleep apnea in cardiovascular patients who have not yet been diagnosed with this common and potentially dangerous condition.

The study, funded by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, is being conducted by a UB researcher at the Veterans Affairs Western New York Healthcare System.

The goal is to evaluate how well the computer screening tool developed at UB diagnoses sleep apnea in patients with heart disease, compared to an overnight sleep study, or polysomnography, considered the “gold standard” for diagnosing sleep apnea.

“The importance of this grant is that it may give us a faster way to screen for sleep apnea in patients who are already at high risk but who are undiagnosed,” says Ali A. El Solh, MD, UB professor of medicine in the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and professor of social and preventive medicine in the School of Public Health and Health Professions, who is principal investigator.

It is estimated that between 30 percent and 50 percent of cardiovascular patients also suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, many of whom are undiagnosed.

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