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Vital Signs


Vital Signs

Summer 2010

Other Sleep Issues


When insomnia is caused by other conditions that interfere with sleep, such as depression or anxiety, chronic pain, periodic leg movements or, more commonly, sleep apnea, designing a treatment strategy can be more complicated. Approximately 50 percent of patients report sleep-related problems to their primary care physicians, with obstructive sleep apnea being one of the most common disorders, according to Ravi Aysola, M.D., a pulmonologist and sleep-medicine specialist at UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica.

“In addition to causing loud snoring, gasping for air and frequent awakenings during the night, obstructive sleep apnea increases the risk for high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease — including heart attack, heart arrhythmias and stroke — as well as poor blood-sugar control,” Dr. Aysola explains. “In patients with coexisting conditions, treating the underlying medical condition may often resolve the insomnia.”

“Sleep is strongly interconnected with many chronic diseases, but an estimated 60 percent of primary care physicians don’t ask their patients about sleep,” says Daniel Kang, M.D., who specializes in internal medicine and sleep medicine at UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica. “It is important that patients raise the issue themselves if they are experiencing problems because there are serious consequences of prolonged sleep disorders.”

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