Thu, Oct 05, 2017 - Page 3 News List

TMU researchers develop home app for sleep apnea

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

A Taipei Medical University (TMU) research team has developed an online self-examination system for sleep apnea, which keeps track of a person’s sleeping pattern through a device attached to the finger.

Many people with high blood pressure suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, a sleep disorder characterized by pauses in breathing or periods of shallow breathing during sleep, TMU Graduate Institute of Biomedical Informatics chairman Terry Kuo (郭博昭) said.

Statistics provided by the Health Promotion Administration showed that 23.7 percent, or nearly one in four adults, aged 18 and older have high blood pressure.

The survey conducted from 2013 to 2015 also showed the ratio rising to more than 60 percent for adults aged 65 and older, the agency said.

“About one in five people in Taiwan suffer from sleep disorders, and hundreds of thousands of people may have sleep apnea, but do not know it,” he said, adding that obstructive sleep apnea can lead to increased risks of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease.

“The oxygen saturation level drops when breathing pauses, so our task is to detect how many times the saturation level drops in one hour of sleep. If it drops more than five times in an hour, the person likely has mild sleep apnea,” Kuo said.

However, consulting a sleep disorder specialist at hospitals covered by the National Health Insurance Program usually involves a three-month waiting period, Kuo said.

This inspired him to design an online self-examination system that works together with a fingertip oxihemometer and a smartphone to upload the data, making it easy for people to keep a record of their breathing conditions during sleep.

The results from the system have an accuracy rate of more than 90 percent, compared with those using medical equipment in hospitals, he said.

A typical symptom of sleep apnea is snoring, and its long-term effects may include sleepiness during daytime and memory loss, Kuo said.

However, obstructive sleep apnea can lead to cardiovascular or cerebrovascular disease, so using the new self-examination system can give people an insight into their condition and seek treatment earlier, he added.

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