Sleep apnea & pulse oximetry

What is Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a disease, which can frequently be difficult to diagnose.
It’s prevalence in general population is around 2 – 7% [2] (with pessimistic estimates ranging up to 25% in men [3]). More than 80% of the population is not diagnosed[1].

Sleep Apnea is a disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops for long periods of time during the night. 

This lack of breathing/oxygen often results in daytime sleepiness, fatigue-related vehicle accidents and in the long run could cause metabolic syndrome, neurocognitive deficits, vigilance decline and erectile dysfunction[4]. Untreated OSA is linked to diabetes, hypertention or stroke. Most of all, sleep apnea increases risk of early death by 46%. According to the National Commission on Sleep Disorders Research, approximately 38,000 people die annually due to cardiovascular problems, that are related to sleep apnea in one way or another.

Why is the disease so rarely diagnosed?

Up to 93% of women and 82% of men with sleep apnea are not diagnosed. Why is that so?

It’s difficult to find out if you have sleep apnea, because you are sleeping at the time it occurs. Most people who have apnea do not know about it. But they still suffer its devastating consequences.

The recommended method of diagnosing sleep apnea is polysomnography (PSG). The patient spends a night in a sleep laboratory, tied to EKG, EEG, EMG, Oximeter and other sensors. It is understandable that even when someone suspects they might have apnea, the idea of sleeping in a lab may turn them off from taking the required actions. PSG testing can also be pretty expensive (e.g. $4600 in Alaska Sleep Clinic).

Do I have Sleep Apnea?

According to American Academy of Sleep Medicine groups with higher risk of sleep apnea include overweight (BMI=25-29.9) and obese (BMI>30) people, people with larger neck sizes and middle-aged to older people. Also regular high snoring may be a warning sign of OSA.

Because of the high incidence (every 4th to 50th person) and insufficient diagnostics, we believe some form of pre-screening in home conditions would be extremely valuable to prevent the destructive consequences of the disease. Especially if you consider those consequences can be effectively prevented.


Pulse Oximetry can recommend visiting a doctor based on your nightly breathing data

The golden standard for apnea screening is PSG, which measures the AHI (apnea-hypopnea) index. Several studies has shown large correlation between AHI and ODI/RDI (oxyhemoglobin desaturation index, oximeter-derived respiratory disturbance index).

Screenshot from 2016-05-20 11-23-23

ODI/RDI indexes can be obtained using Pulse Oximetry at home.

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