First method to assess exposure to common sleep disorder

20/06/2023 | 2 mins

Researchers have developed a tool to measure how long people suffering from obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) have been affected by the condition before being diagnosed.

“Our team developed the first algorithm to estimate the years a person has had OSA.”

Dr Michelle Olaithe, UWA School of Psychological Science

Dr Michelle Olaithe, from UWA’s School of Psychological Science, said despite moderate-to-severe OSA being linked to significantly increased risk of mortality, stroke and cancer incidence, there was no method to establish how long a patient had been exposed.

“Greater exposure time to a risk factor is often connected to poorer health, for example, the relationship between smoking ‘pack-years’ and the risk of lung cancer – but no such algorithm exists for exposure to obstructive sleep apnoea,” Dr Olaithe said.

“Our team developed the first algorithm to estimate the years a person has had OSA.”

The algorithm, referred to as OSA-Onset was created using a range of health variables including body mass index, weight gain, snoring, diabetes, excessive daytime sleepiness, low mood and biological sex.

apnoea card

Funded by the Raine Medical Foundation and Australasian Sleep Association, the UWA-led study collaborated with research group the Wisconsin Sleep Cohort, which manages the oldest ongoing sleep database, to develop the tool.

Dr Olaithe said data gathered by OSA-Onset would enable future studies to identify people who had experienced OSA for an extended period and examine the effects of long-term exposure. It could also help explain why some people had a worse disease prognosis and poorer response to therapy, she said.

“As OSA is related to — and possibly the cause of — other illness, having a method to estimate its onset could help assess the risk of related diseases,” Dr Olaithe said.

“This could provide an opportunity for prevention or the earliest possible intervention.”


Media references

Doug MacLaurin (UWA PR & Media Advisor)                       08 6488 7975


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