Past Time to Awaken to the Seriousness of Sleep Apnea, Grandi Says

August 27, 2012 (PRLEAP.COM) Health News
In a greeting from the podium of the Tenth World Conference on Sleep Apnea in Rome, Edward Grandi of the American Sleep Apnea Association today told conference participants that patient advocates at the conference would use their time together to hammer out a patient call to action.

"It is past time to wake up to how serious this condition is, not only to those who suffer from it, but to their bed partner, family, their co-workers and the larger community," Grandi said. He is executive director of the ASAA, a patient-centered organization that educates and advocates for the estimated 22 million Americans who suffer from the potentially life-shortening disease.

Grandi was the only non-physician among the speakers at the opening event of the conference, held in a presentation room of the Italian Capitol. He addressed the group in Italian.

Opening their deliberations to patient concerns is a new development for the conference, which meets every three years and is devoted mainly to receiving and discussing research findings. At the patient roundtable to be conducted this year at the world conference, Grandi and representatives from other sleep apnea patient organizations plan to discuss ways to implement their call to action, to hammer out a patient bill of rights, and establish an annual World Sleep Apnea Awareness Day.

"Our association will collaborate with other patient organizations to use World Awareness Day for obstructive sleep apnea as an annual event to encourage people who suspect they have the condition to speak with their doctor and begin the process of recovering their ability to get a good night's sleep, something that is so important to a healthy life," Grandi said.

In obstructive sleep apnea, the disease's most common form, a collapse of the airway repeatedly stops the sleeper's breathing for 10 seconds or longer, sometimes hundreds of times a night. Left untreated, OSA is known to be a forerunner of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, depression, and cancer. The resultant overwhelming daytime sleepiness in some patients can also lead to falling asleep at the wheel and fatal traffic accidents.

The conference runs from Aug. 27 through Sept. 1.