To Reduce the Complications, Tell Anesthesiologist if You Snore – a Study in SLEEP

Dr. Abdelsattar and his colleagues at University of Michigan studied the impact of untreated Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) on Cardiopulmonary Complications during surgery and published their findings in the journal SLEEP (Volume 38 Issue 08.)

Of 26,842 patients they studied, 2,646 had a diagnosis or suspicion of OSA. Of those, 1,465 (55.4%) were untreated. Compared with treated OSA, untreated OSA was independently associated with more cardiopulmonary complications (risk-adjusted rates 6.7% versus 4.0%; adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 1.8, P = 0.001), particularly unplanned reintubations ( having to put patient back on the respirator – aOR = 2.5, P = 0.003) and heart attack (aOR = 2.6, P = 0.031). 

The researchers found that the patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) who are not treated with positive airway pressure preoperatively are at increased risks for cardiopulmonary complications after general and vascular surgery. Improving the recognition of OSA and ensuring adequate treatment may be a strategy to reduce the risk for surgical patients with OSA.

OSA is increasingly being recognized as a risk factor for adverse postoperative complications. Despite the growing awareness of OSA’s effect on postoperative outcomes, up to 80% of patients presenting for surgery may actually have undiagnosed OSA and are therefore untreated for this condition. In other words, adults may present for surgery without adequate preoperative risk assessment for OSA, possibly putting them at heightened risk for postoperative complications. Therefore, the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) has issued practice guidelines specific to the perioperative management of patients with OSA. In these guidelines, the ASA recommends screening patients for OSA prior to surgery and implementing special care pathways if OSA is present.

Hence, if you or a family member is planned to have a surgery, please tell your anesthesia doctor that you snore so that the team can take the necessary precautions to prevent these complications. It is even better if you tell this to your family physician a month or so prior to the surgery so that the diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea can be started prior to the surgery.

Sleep Well, Live Well.

God Bless.