Mar 18, 2010
March 2010: Call me the Sleep Crash Dummy
Well, some things just work out in the strangest ways.
I have friends (respiratory therapist/doctor) who work with a Sleep Med Clinic. They are trying out a couple of different models of sleep apnea test units for 'at home' use for their patients. They asked me to try out a model and comment back to them from a nurse perspective as to the instructions and any potential issues with its use. So I tried it.
Long story short, the monitor showed 711 of hypo and apnea events in 9 hours. Obstructive Sleep Apnea. I was then referred to a Sleep Lab the next day for a more formal study where the results were worse ( 70 periods of not breathing in 2 hours) and even with CPAP ( continuous positive airway pressure) mask applied due to decreasing oxygen levels, my heart rates increased and my respirations stopped. With CPAP I had continuing events of sustained apnea up to 34 seconds.
I have had no sleep complaints, with the exception of awakening during the night with what I thought to be 'hot flashes'. During my 2008 cardiac arrest and subsequent days of care, there were no problems with oxygen levels. No history of day sleepiness or nodding off, but of course, my days are trumped by vasospasms and variant angina.
This Sleep Study result, on top of my current heart state with MVD, put me at great risk for a heart attack, stroke and mini-strokes-TIA (transient ischemic attacks) all in the absence of any CAD. This also explains why I'm so tired and with problematic chest pain even with the amount of nitro I wear each day. My heart was not getting any rest and was under a great deal of stress around the clock. I have been very careful about getting to bed early so that sleep/rest time would be my healing time. But, little did I know that I was under more stress trying to sleep!
When professionals asked about my nights I could only describe them as very good: no exertion=no chest pain. When I did complain about waking with rapid heart beats, I stated that I was also feeling like I was having 'hot flashes'. Thank goodness I had my nitro patch at night, something that is NOT recommended 24/7, but needed for me. And I was 'hot' alright; I wasn't breathing. Previous years of lung function testing were negative.
CPAP intervention could be very significant for reducing my cardiac pain PLUS I get some rest. This has been going on for 14 months when I checked back to my notes about 'hot flashes' which turns out to be my heart racing under duress and trying to breathe.......really often!
Types of apnea are known to be associated with people with CAD problems, not necessarily the dysfunction that I might have, but my current research, with help from my friends, indicate a very strong scientific study relationship with lack of oxygen, that stressor on the vascular system and the impact on the endothelial and that dysfunction. Again, another new area of research. I am hopeful that REM ( the good sleep) sleep will reduce those complicated neural and metabolic processes on the heart and that I have relief from pain. I'm now going to join the Sleep Apnea forum and have members look at this connection.
So you see...a favor for a friend turned out to be a favor for me. After the night we learned about the first test results and we were home in bed my husband said: “Hope to see you in the morning”, to which I responded: “Hell, I'm not closing my eyes!”
Another journey. CPAP and nitro are my friends. I may not have stated the correct responses to my sleep habits. But to me it felt like 'hot flashes' and I'm one of billions of women with the similar complaint. I just don't know how else to have described these night time events. Joan.