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Should Bariatric Patients Be Evaluated for Sleep Apnea?

Obesity is the #1 risk factor for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), with family history coming in at a close second. The strong correlation between obesity and the development of sleep apnea places bariatric patients of the New Life Center for Bariatric Surgery at a higher risk of having sleep apnea than other populations. Lopez, Stefan, Schulman and Byers (2008) evaluated the presence of sleep apnea in patients presenting for bariatric surgery evaluations. Researchers discovered 78% of the study participants had obstructive sleep apnea and the incidence increased as the body mass index (BMI) increased. The data obtained from this study provided additional evidence for routine screening of sleep apnea prior to weight loss surgery.
Treatment of obstructive sleep apnea is essential to decrease co-morbidities, improve daytime functioning and decrease complications during and after bariatric surgery. Approximately 6-12 months after bariatric surgery a repeat polysomnogram (sleep study) should be performed to determine if the sleep apnea has been “cured” or if the severity has altered. Several outcomes have been determined from the multitude of studies regarding the resolution of OSA after weight-loss surgery. In the majority of patient cases the severity of sleep apnea improved after bariatric surgery, however despite successful weight loss some patients still had residual OSA that required treatment. Therefore, it is impetrative patients continue treating their sleep apnea following bariatric surgery until a repeat sleep study is performed.
*Remember, bariatric surgery is an effective tool in treating obesity, as well as preventing, treating and sometimes resolving obstructive sleep apnea.

Sherrill Boozer, RN, MSN, FNP-BC


Lopez, P. P., Stefan, B., Schulman, C. I., & Byers, P. M. (2008). Prevalence of sleep apnea in morbidly obese patients who presented for weight loss surgery evaluation: more evidence for routine screening for obstructive sleep apnea before weight loss surgery. The American surgeon, 74(9), 834-838. Retrieved from http://www.odontologos.mx/odontologos/sesiones/apnea-del-sueno/34.p

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