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COVID-19 and Testing for Sleep Apnea

COVID-19 has disrupted the lives of all of us. And this new CORONA virus is creating a dilemma for those suffering from sleep apnea. Is it safe to go to a sleep center for a sleep test? Should I visit a doctor to consult and risk an infection?

The short answer to these questions is no. It was announced by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that all non-essential medical procedures be delayed at this time. And the American Sleep Association agrees, recommending that patients should consider postponing all elective, in-person sleep clinic appointments.

At a sleep clinic, personal safety equipment is used to protect the patient, respiratory therapist, and other staff. But this safety equipment is now needed and being deployed to those working the front lines in emergency departments.

With the medical community overwhelmed and struggling to provide care to patients infected with the COVID-19 virus, attention throughout this whole country has turned to its treatment.

But sleep apnea is a serious health condition that shouldn’t be ignored. It can have serious health risks and even fatal outcomes like heart attack, high blood pressure, and stroke.

Getting tested for sleep apnea is vital to ensuring good health.

Fortunately, there are alternatives to getting tested at a sleep center. Advances in medical technology now make it possible to do a sleep test in the comfort of your own bed. There are devices that have been approved by the FDA for diagnosing sleep apnea, so there is no longer a need to go to a sleep center.

Home Sleep Testing

From start to finish, these tests and their results are provided to you via telemedicine. Home sleep tests can be purchased online and delivered right to your home. Your results are evaluated by a sleep physician who can provide a diagnosis and write a prescription for a CPAP machine, if necessary.

If you choose to use in-home testing for sleep apnea, be careful when choosing test equipment. Some test units must be returned after each use and are used multiple times. There is also the chance of being held responsible for lost or damaged equipment. Always make sure to read the fine print before buying.

After testing with reusable units, the device is returned for the data to be downloaded and evaluated, and a sleep physician then provides a report. The equipment is then conditioned to send to the next patient.

Using test equipment that’s been used on other patients can be concerning, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic we’re facing now. If not properly cleaned, this virus can remain on surfaces for up to 3 days.

If you’d like to use test equipment that hasn’t been used by someone else there is a new single-use home test offered by Lunella. With this service, there is no need to return the computer module used in many home sleep tests, since Lunella uses an app that is easily downloaded to a smart phone.  

After completion of the test, your results are securely uploaded to the cloud.  A board-certified sleep physician will interpret the results, and if necessary, will recommend treatment and provide a prescription.  Telemedicine at its finest:  You never need to leave your home.

In addition to being able to use it in your own home, here are some other benefits of Lunella:

  • This is a one-time use design, meaning you will be the first and only patient to connect to the device.
  • No feeling of awkwardness, since you perform the testing in the privacy of your own home, in the comfort of your own bed.
  • Depending on the insurance plan, the Lunella service may be lower cost than in-lab sleep testing.  Insurance coverage can be misleading --make sure you consider out of pocket expense. 
  • Currently, the Lunella sells for less than $400.
  • Easy to use.
  • It’s a highly accurate device that measures: body position, chest movement, peripheral arterial tone, snoring intensity, pulse rate, body activity, and oxygen saturation.

All you need, other than the device itself, is a Smartphone or tablet that uses Android 5.1 and above or an iPhone with IOS 10 and above.

 


[i] https://aasm.org/covid-19-resources/covid-19-mitigation-strategies-sleep-clinics-labs

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