Snooze Soundly
Sleep Disorder Clinic Helps Those With
Sleep apnea

man with sleeping machine

Think you may have sleep apnea? Then you may want to head to The SleepLab at Inova ALFA Neurology in Alexandria, part of Inova Medical Group. The lab offers overnight stays for patients with sleep disorders, including sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea, in which people stop breathing frequently while sleeping, often goes undiagnosed. As common as type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea affects more than 18 million Americans, according to the National Sleep Foundation. But still more go undiagnosed because its serious effects are not widely recognized or understood by patients and even many general practitioners, according to Jack Cochran, MD, FACP, Medical Director, Cerebrovascular Services for Inova Health System, and Medical Director, Stroke and Neurodiagnostics, at Inova Fairfax Hospital.

"Many people overlook sleep apnea as just typical snoring, but it is much more severe than that," Dr. Cochran says. "If left untreated, it can lead to serious, even fatal, problems, including irregular heart rhythm or atrial fibrillation, stroke and brain damage. Most patients with stroke have sleep apnea and should have a sleep study."

Patients who may already have serious chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, history of stroke, high blood pressure and obesity may already suffer from sleep apnea and should ask their doctors about getting diagnosed at a sleep lab, according to Dr. Cochran. Most insurance carriers will cover sleep lab visits with a physician referral.

During patients' visits to the clinic, electrodes monitor patients while they sleep, allowing Dr. Cochran and his team to thoroughly diagnose and determine the best treatment for each patient. Once diagnosed with sleep apnea, patients have a number of options. One is to use a portable ventilation device known as a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure or C-PAP machine. The machine is comprised of a ventilator and a facemask. "This [the C-PAP] leaves all breathing passages open," and allows the patient to breathe without interruption while sleeping, explains Dr. Cochran. 


Better Z's

Besides The SleepLab, Inova Health System offers two other locations for sleep studies: Inova Alexandria Hospital Sleep Disorders Center and Inova Fair Oaks Hospital Sleep Disorders Program. Find out more.

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