It seems that every morning you wake up with a headache that tends to disappear after a couple of hours. Then you’ve noticed, or more accurately your significant other, that you wake up a number of times in the wee hours of the night gasping for air. And to top it all off, you think that you would have a much more productive day if someone had invented an IV coffee drip so you could stay awake and concentrate at work. Sound familiar? You might have obstructive sleep apnea and not know it yet unless…you took a STOP BANG questionnaire.
Obstructive sleep apnea is the partial or full obstruction of a person’s airway, which prevents proper breathing. The sufferer can literally stop breathing a few seconds to minutes, and to make matters worse the frequency can be as little as five to over 30 times in any given hour during the course of a night’s sleep.
Although awareness of this condition has increased over the last several years, there are still over 80 percent of people with sleep apnea not properly diagnosed, which also translates to not being treated. When sleep apnea is not treated, it places the individual at a higher risk for life-threatening conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke. Sleep apnea also places the sufferer at risk for complications if scheduled for surgery.
Developed in 2008 by Dr. Frances Chung at the University of Toronto as a pre-surgery screening tool, the STOP BANG questionnaire is used to help identify sleep apnea easily with eight short questions.
The STOP and BANG stand for the following:
T: Tiredness during the daytime
O: Observed apnea, i.e. pauses in breathing
P: Pressure (high blood pressure)
B: Body mass index (BMI)
N: Neck circumference
The questions tackle the various areas that predispose a person to sleep apnea. If the patient positively responds to three or more questions, sleep apnea is present at a high probability and would need further testing for an accurate diagnosis such as with the gold standard of diagnostic testing, a sleep study.
The STOP BANG questionnaire is not the only tool used as a screening method for sleep apnea. In 1996, the Berlin questionnaire was created, and differs from STOP BANG in that the questions span three different categories: severity of snoring, daytime sleepiness and high blood pressure/obesity history. Unfortunately, the use of the Berlin questionnaire has not been well adopted in many physician practices. In order to calculate risk, the administrator needs to score the answers to the questions. It is not as quick and easy as the STOP BANG questionnaire.
How Does the STOP BANG Questionnaire Rank Against the Berlin?
Since 2008, various research groups demonstrated the validity of using the STOP BANG questionnaire as a screening tool for sleep apnea. Results of some of these studies were published in the British Journal of Anesthesia, Current Opinion in Anesthesiology and Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. At any rate, this questionnaire can easily be added into routine pre-screening protocol for physicians and surgeons in their offices.
If you have or suspect you might have sleep apnea, please contact one of our medical concierges today at 1-855-863-4537 to schedule a free consultation.