Wayne’s Story: Heart Patient With Sleep Apnea Feels Rested

Wayne Barr, of Beavercreek, always felt sleepy. He would doze while riding in the car, or nod off while watching TV. He assumed that this was probably par for the course. He was a senior and a heart transplant patient who had gone about eight years with his new heart.

While Wayne was in for a checkup and monitoring of his congestive heart failure, sleep specialists suspected that sleep apnea might be causing his drowsiness.

Sleep apnea is a common condition (affecting 20 million Americans) in which the upper airway relaxes during sleep and blocks normal breathing. The sufferer must partially wake up in order to catch their next breath. Often those with sleep apnea can sleep 10 hours a night and still not feel rested. Symptoms include loud snoring, abrupt gasping, and restless sleep. Sufferers may also have a dry throat or a headache in the morning.

After Wayne’s sleep was monitored, sleep specialists confirmed his diagnosis. Sleep apnea can lead to multiple health problems, including worsening congestive heart failure in Wayne's case. A specific condition called central sleep apnea is common in heart patients.

Test results showed that Wayne stopped breathing 34 times per hour at night. So, Wayne was fitted with a device called a variable positive airway pressure unit (VPAP). The VPAP uses a built-in computer to monitor breathing. When a patient's breathing drops below his average ventilation rate, the device delivers pressurized air to open the passage.

Wayne was also put on a healthy diet and followed recommended lifestyle changes. Wayne found the VPAP device comfortable to wear. After a few months, he was sleeping more soundly, with his breathing stopping only about once per hour. His episodes of falling asleep during the day have ceased.

Learn more about Premier Health’s Sleep Disorder Centers.

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