The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence recently published guidance on the use of Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) devices to treat OSA. OSA has been reported to affect up to 4% of middle-aged men and 2% of middle-aged women in the UK, with an estimate of 1% suffering from severe OSA.
The guidance is available in full at www.nice.org.uk/TA139
Untreated OSA has been linked to increased risk of heart disease, strokes and high blood pressure, as well as fatal road accidents. In fact, a report conducted by the Sleep Alliance estimates that untreated cases cost the NHS over £430 million per year.
Today, OSA is widely undiagnosed and untreated and, a recent survey by the British Thoracic Society (BTS) found that provision of CPAP therapy varies widely, describing it as a ‘postcode lottery.’ www.brit-thoracic.org.uk
This will be an important milestone and is likely to increase demand on hospitals and CCGs/LHBs to deliver a uniform and effective sleep service and place extra pressure on sleep services already struggling to meet 18-week targets.