Impact of Positive Airway Pressure Among Obstructive Sleep Apnea Patients

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Sleep Apnea Article Summary
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), a disorder in which the palate collapses shutting off the airway while sleeping, can be one of the most least diagnose and least treated of all major illnesses. The primary treatment mechanism for OSA is positive airway pressure (PAP), where a machine delivers pressurized air into the patient to keep the airway open at night. A study by Qian Cai, Haingkiat Tan, and Joseph Singer, entitled “Impact of Positive Airway Pressure Among Obstructive Sleep Apnea Patients” attempts to analyze the health benefits associated with PAP usage among people who have been diagnosed with sleep apnea.
In this study, the researchers conducted a baseline analysis of patients who had had at least two health claims related to OSA in the period within one year after their initial diagnoses (Cai et. al., 1). This amounted to a study population of 15,424 individuals, who were then followed for a minimum of 12 months and a baseline of 24 months to determine what if any health impact PAP might have been having on treatment. Of those participants, approximately ten percent did not use PAP while the remaining 90% did. Furthemore, the study designers controlled for previous illness by eliminating anyone who had a previous diagnoses of cardiovascular disease, to ensure that these results did not bias the sample.
The study measured health effects by measuring the rates of hospitalization among those using PAP to those who were not. They measured this using two different metrics: total hospitalization and hospitalization related to OSA. OSA is associated with a wide number of illnesses, including cardiovascular disease, heart failure, coronary artery disease, cerebrovascular disease, diabetes, and hypertension, so any hospitalization for these reasons (which obviously constitute a large number of total hospitalizations) would be considered OSA related hospitalizations (1).
The study found a statistically significant (p