In years past a primary care physician would diagnose sleep apnea sufferers with an overnight sleep test called a Nocturnal polysomnography. This type of sleep test is administered by a sleep lab to monitor your heart, lungs and brain activity, breathing patterns, arm and leg movements, and blood oxygen levels while you sleep. As the undiagnosed sleep apnea community grew to an estimated 22 million Americans it was clear there needed to be an easier more comfortable way to for physicians diagnose patients. In 2008, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services began reimbursement for the Home Sleep Study (HST).
The HST allows you to sleep at home wearing equipment that collects information about how you breathe during sleep. You will usually set up the testing equipment yourself. There are a variety of home sleep apnea testing devices that have different sensors and equipment. These devices measure your breathing and blood oxygen level. Some also may measure your heart rate or other information about your body. If you have sleep apnea, the test results will show drops in your oxygen level during apneas and subsequent rises with awakenings.
A patient is usually ordered a HST by his or her physician who suspects that the individual has sleep apnea. The patient usually applies sensors to the body before sleep time and sleeps with the equipment for 1 – 3 nights. The equipment is returned to the diagnostic service company where the data is downloaded and processed for interpretation by a physician.
Most insurance companies cover the costs of HSTs. Blue Cross, Blue Shield, Aetna, Cigna, and most other insurance companies cover home sleep testing for sleep apnea. With the ease of a home sleep study, physicians hope to start making a dent in the undiagnosed population. Diagnosing sleep apnea will greatly improve quality of life for millions of Americans. Sleep apnea is the underlying cause for many medical ailments such as high blood pressure, heart attack, stoke, diabetes, obesity and many others.
Early recognition and diagnosis of sleep conditions will significantly improve the quality of care given to a patient. Treating patients sleep conditions will lower their associated risks for more serious medical maladies significantly. If you suspect you might have sleep apnea, been diagnosed or would like to find out how you can avoid the high risk of developing other conditions, contact one of our medical concierges today at 1-855-863-4537 to schedule a consultation.