CRS Specialists Research A Smart Phone App To Diagnose Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA)

Monday, 29 October 2018

The first phase of the ResApp clinical trial to diagnose OSA has proven to be very successful. 

OSA is a common sleep condition which involves the involuntary obstruction of airways which can cause a person to snore and stop breathing while sleeping.

Disrupted sleep due to sleep apnoea can prevent a person from experiencing quality sleep over time which may contribute to an increased risk of other chronic health conditions such as; cardiovascular disease and stroke.

The short-term effects of OSA can include fatigue and excessive daytime drowsiness, impacting tasks such as driving.

Accessible Diagnostic Technology

In conjunction with Cardio Respiratory Sleep (CRS), a leading digital health company ResApp has reached a milestone in the development of the smartphone application which can detect the early signs and symptoms of OSA.

Prospective clinical studies of ResApp’s technology have shown positive results from the company’s machine-learning algorithms, which have been able to accurately identify OSA from overnight breathing and snoring sounds.

Applications of The Technology

Traditionally, in-lab or at home sleep tests have been necessary to accurately diagnose sleep apnoea however, this emerging technology may assist in the future in diagnosing OSA more cost effectively. 

With an estimated 80 percent of people who suffer from moderate to severe sleep apnoea living with the condition undiagnosed, the technology could be a landmark change for the health outcomes of those living with sleep apnoea.

Benefit to Society

When left undiagnosed and untreated, OSA can increase a patient’s risk of heart disease, hypertension, stroke and type 2 diabetes leading to a large impact on the healthcare system. It’s estimated that untreated OSA costs the Australian economy over $7.49 billion each year.

According to principal investigators from CRS, Dr Ivan Ling and Dr Philip Currie:

“The results from the study are excellent and we are one step closer to expanding the set of tools that can help identify people with sleep apnoea. Today’s methods of sleep apnoea diagnosis…aren’t able to mass screen patients due to availability and costs, leaving a large unmet clinical and social need.”

“This work should provide an excellent platform to build an accurate, low-cost technology that can be used in OSA screening and long-term monitoring applications in a home setting,” Associate Professor Udantha Abeyratne, Chief Scientist of ResApp said.

“By using a smartphone app, we have the opportunity to deliver a highly-scalable, accurate and easy-to-use screening test…This has the potential to improve the health of a large portion of the population and significantly reduce the economic burden that undiagnosed OSA causes,” Managing Director of ResApp, Tony Keating said.

What is OSA?

Obstructive sleep apnoea occurs when the upper airway repeatedly narrows or collapses, blocking the flow of air and causing breathing issues during sleep. Consistent OSA during the night can disrupt sleep quality and drop the body’s oxygen levels, putting it under stress and leading to long term health problems.

OSA typically occurs when muscles around the airways weaken, leading to restriction or obstruction of airflow. It can occur due to a variety of different factors, including:

  • Old age
  • Decreased muscle tone, often caused by drugs or alcohol
  • Increased soft tissue around airway, associated with obesity
  • Injury to the brain

OSA risk has shown to be statistically more prevalent in men, but also rises in correlation with age and weight gain.

Detecting OSA

It’s estimated that sleep apnoea affects 1 in 10 Australians, however many more could be unaware of their condition and remain undiagnosed. Symptoms of obstructive sleep apnoea can include:

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness and fatigue
  • Severe difficulty waking and rising
  • Morning headaches
  • Choking feeling during the night
  • Snoring
  • Falling asleep during the day or needing frequent naps

While many patients with respiratory sleep disorders snore, snoring alone isn’t a confirmation of sleep apnoea.

How is OSA Treated?

Obstructive sleep apnoea is typically first diagnosed by partners or family members, as those with the condition may not notice symptoms while sleeping.

Once a person is aware of symptoms such as snoring, fatigue and daytime drowsiness, their apnoea can be professionally diagnosed by participating in a monitored sleep test.

Once diagnosed, a patient can be assigned a treatment depending on the severity of their condition. Treatment options can include:

  • Positional therapy
  • Jaw positioning devices
  • Assistive breathing devices
  • Surgical treatment

OSA can be successfully managed and treated through a combination of addressing lifestyle risk factors as well as being provided specialised and personalised care. Surgical treatment aims to free space in the airway to reduce obstruction and can be perhaps a consideration for more severe cases.

Book a Sleep Study Referral Today

If you experience symptoms of obstructive sleep apnoea such as excessive daytime sleepiness or fatigue, you may have undiagnosed OSA and it may be worthwhile discussing how you are feeling when you next meet with your general practitioner. 

Contact one of our staff members to organise an in-lab or at home sleep study to help diagnose your sleep. CRS provide a comprehensive specialist sleep diagnostic and personalised sleep treatment service and support. CRS is able to diagnose, manage and treat all sleep conditions and concerns in a timely manner with the help of highly trained medical staff.

CRS also provides specialist respiratory services throughout Perth and Melbourne.