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Take-Home Tests Can Help Diagnose Sleep Apnea

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TWC News: Take-Home Tests Can Help Diagnose Sleep Apnea
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It's a take-home test like no other, one in which sleeping gets you high marks. NY1's Shazia Khan has more on home sleep studies in our Health and Medicine Report.

"The bed was better than mine,” said 61-year-old Wanda Fuller.

But still, she says could hardly sleep at the Center for Sleep Medicine at St . Barnabas Hospital.

After years of restless nights, Fuller was admitted for a sleep study in April to test for sleep apnea, a condition which affects breathing during sleep and can lead to heart disease and other health problems.

But the study, which has patients hooked up to numerous sensors, proved to be ineffective for her.

"She only obtained a few minutes of sleep right here, so this study didn't give us any information because the patient didn't sleep,” said Dr. Daniel Erichsen, director of the Sleep Center at St. Barnabas Hospital.

"I didn't feel comfortable,” said Fuller.

So Dr. Erichsen sent Fuller home with one of a variety of home sleep testing devices used primarily to check for sleep apnea.

"You sleep in your own bed. You turn it on before you sleep and turn it off in the morning and you bring it back so we can check the results,” said Dr. Erichsen.

Fuller’s results led to a diagnosis of sleep apnea. Though not as detailed or as accurate as hospital sleep studies, Dr. Erichsen says the home study is a viable option for the right patient who prefers to sleep at home. Covered by most insurances, lightweight, easy to use and at a cost significantly less than hospital tests, he says interest in home sleep test devices is growing.

"Over the past year or so, it’s become very attractive because the technology has gotten so much more improved,” said Dr. Erichsen.

And while the at home sleep test may appeal to many patients, doctors say it’s not for everyone

"If you have a patient that you are convinced has sleep apnea, that has the typical symptoms, the home sleep testing is pretty much as good as the one we do here. If you have a patient that has mild symptoms, you're not quite sure if they will have it or not, then you don’t quite trust the home sleep test,” said Dr. Erichsen.

As for Fuller, she's looking forward to receiving treatment and to getting her energy back.

"Very excited that I could do a little more,” she said.

Starting with sleeping through the night.

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