Do you have sleep apnea? An "electronic nose" could have the answer, according to a small new study.
Researchers from Marburg Hospital in Germany tested the ability of an electronic nose -- which works by analyzing compounds in a person's breath -- in diagnosing sleep apnea.
It works, with 93 percent sensitivity.
"The electronic nose could be useful in two ways. First, it can rule out the disease in a low prevalence population. Secondly, in a population with a high risk of sleep apnea, the device could be used to help decide who would need to undergo an overnight sleep examination," study researcher Dr. Timm Greulich said in a statement. "Following these results, we foresee that the use of an electronic nose could reduce costs by more appropriately selecting patients who require the sleep examination."
The study, published in the European Respiratory Journal, included 41 people with sleep apnea, and 20 people without any sleep disorders. The people with sleep apnea underwent CPAP treatment (the standard treatment for the condition), and researchers found that applying the "electronic nose" to these people led to an effective diagnosis.
Researchers said that the "electronic nose" likely works because it's able to detect airway inflammation in people with sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is a condition where a person stops breathing or has shallow breathing during sleep, leading to disturbed sleep. This in turn causes excessive sleepiness during the day, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Sleep apnea is usually diagnosed by a sleep specialist through overnight monitoring of sleep via nocturnal polysomnography, though home tests are also becoming more popular, the Mayo Clinic reported.
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Sleep Apnea Increases Risk Of Heart Attack
The sleep disorder has a number of poor effects on the heart. "It's as if somebody's choking you, so your heart rate goes up, your blood pressure goes up," Charles Czeisler, M.D., the Baldino Professor of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School told <em>Health</em> magazine. "Over time, even your daytime blood pressure is higher." Sleep apnea may be responsible for a third of all cases of <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/14/sleep-health_n_1310353.html">high blood pressure</a> in Americans, he told the magazine. A 2007 study showed just how serious these cardiovascular effects of sleep apnea are. The research found that people with sleep apnea were <a href="http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070520183533.htm">30 percent more likely to have a heart attack</a> or die of any cause over a four to five year period.
Sleep Apnea May Increase Depression Risk
The under diagnosed sleep condition takes a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/30/sleep-apnea-depression-risk_n_1391707.html">serious toll on the mood</a>, according to March research from the CDC. In fact, men with sleep apnea were more than twice as likely and women more than five times as likely to feel hopeless, lose interest in their regular activites and display other signs of clinical depression, Health.com reported. Snoring did not seem to be associated with depression. Luckily, the very same <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/15/sleep-apnea-treatment-depression-cpap_n_1597703.html">treatment for sleep apnea may also ease depression</a>, according to Cleveland Clinic research.
Sleep Apnea May Be A Risk Factor For Diabetes
There is a growing body of research supporting a link between the presence of sleep apnea and <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/24/sleep-apnea-diabetes-type-2-_n_1539933.html">metabolic disorders like diabetes</a>, HuffPost reported in May. Both moderate and severe obstructive sleep apnea were found to be predictors of the disease. A previous study found that people with sleep apnea had more than <a href="http://news.yale.edu/2007/05/24/sleep-apnea-increases-risk-heart-attack-and-diabetes">double the risk of developing diabetes</a>.
Sleep Apnea May Increase Cancer Risk
Not only do people with sleep apnea have a <a href="http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/20/sleep-apnea-tied-to-increased-cancer-risk/">higher risk of developing cancer</a>, but they also have a higher risk of dying from the disease, the <em>New York Times</em> reported. Two studies in May examined this link. One found people with sleep apnea had a 65 percent higher change of developing any kind of cancer. The second found that disordered breathing contributed to a five-times higher rate of dying from the disease.
Sleep Apnea May Sap Your Libido
Excessive sleepiness is certainly enough to kill the mood, but research suggests that sleep apnea in particular has an effect on sexual function in both men and women. It may <a href="http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/10/10/really-the-claim-sleep-apnea-causes-sexual-problems/">drive down sex hormones</a> like testosterone in a way that can extinguish the flame for women and cause erectile dysfunction in men, according to the <em>New York Times</em>. And while the typical treatment -- a CPAP machine -- is not exactly an aphrodisiac, Dr. Michael J. Breus writes, it can help not only with sleep apnea, but <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-michael-j-breus/sleep-apnea_b_1661687.html">with the sexual side effects as well</a>.
Sleep Apnea May Increase Stroke Risk
Researchers have long studied the link between the sleep disorder and the risk of stroke, but a small recent study found that 51 of 56 stroke patients evaluated -- or <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-michael-j-breus/sleep-apnea_b_1342311.html">91 percent of patients</a> -- had sleep apnea, Dr. Michael J. Breus wrote for HuffPost. More research is still needed to determine just what role disrupted breathing plays in this elevated risk.
Sleep Apnea Increases Accident Risk
It's not rocket science -- excessive sleepiness during the day leads to sleepier drivers who are at a higher risk of crashing. But a 2008 study found that people with sleep apnea have double the risk of being in a car accident and are <a href="http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080218214401.htm">three to five times more likely to be in a serious crash</a>. The study was the first to examine the severity of car crashes among people with sleep apnea, and found that even mild disordered breathing was linked to increased risk.
Sleep Apnea Is Linked To Pregnancy Complications
Granted, Perry doesn't have to worry about this particular concern. While sleep apnea is often perceived as a problem predominately for men, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/16/sleep-apnea-in-women-may-_n_1779127.html">women are not immune</a>. And, in fact, sleep apnea presents unique complications for women. A recent study found that women with sleep apnea were more likely to develop high blood pressure during their pregnancies, to require a C-section birth and their babies were more <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/21/sleep-apnea-in-pregnancy-_n_1903534.html">likely to be admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit</a>.