West Allis, Wis. March 11, 2008 — The Sleep Wellness Institute, the state’s largest sleep disorders diagnosis and treatment center, will now offer an inexpensive sleep apnea screening tool for use in the home.

The SleepStrip® costs $25 and allows people who suspect that they may have sleep apnea, a potentially lethal disorder, an easy way to screen themselves for indications of the disease. According to Sleep Wellness Institute President Mark Stoiber, the new tool is the “first step” for people who may be reluctant to undergo full testing initially.

“Sleep apnea can only be diagnosed by a sleep study, and unattended ambulatory studies are considered somewhat less reliable, as shown by Medicare’s recent decision not to provide coverage for them,” he explained. “But for those people who are concerned that they might have sleep apnea and are reluctant to be evaluated, the SleepStrips offer them a way to screen themselves, in effect, and then contribute to a determination with a sleep center if a full sleep study is necessary.”

Stoiber acknowledged that the strip will allow some people to allay their fears by screening out those people who have no apnea present.

Manufactured by Sleep Sense®, a division of Scientific Laboratory Products, the strips are worn under the nose overnight. They contain sensors that track breathing and monitor apnea events. Events are displayed in a one digit number from 0 to 3 that the patient reports to the Sleep Wellness Institute. The reading, combined with information about the patient’s sleep and health history, can be used to make a determination of whether additional testing is necessary. If so, the patient will be invited to consult with a Sleep Wellness Institute sleep specialist.

“We believe that offering the SleepStrip will increase awareness and help to identify people who need treatment for sleep apnea,” Stoiber said. He noted that approximately 16 million Americans are believed to have undiagnosed sleep apnea, roughly the same number of people with diabetes, depression, and asthma.

He stressed that while the new strips should be used for screening purposes only, they could help prevent added expense for some people who will learn that they do not need an overnight study in a sleep center. They are not a replacement for a physician’s diagnosis, he stressed. The strips are approved for use by the FDA, he said.

Steve Gardner

 

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