Photo and story by Susan Mikula Campbell
More than 70 people braved snow, sleet and slick roads last Saturday morning to visit Health System Services on Williams Road in Wheatfield for Sleep Apnea Education Day.
Obstructive sleep apnea is a common condition in which the upper airway repeatedly collapses during sleep, preventing air from getting to your lungs. Sometimes, people who have untreated sleep apnea are accused of loud snoring and/or choking or stopping breathing while they sleep. They also may have what is called restless leg syndrome. This isn't just annoying and stressful for spouses. Sleep apnea stresses the individual's heart and raises blood pressure. It can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
Speaker for the event was Dr. Edward Ventresca, a board-certified specialist in sleep medicine and pulmonary diseases, who has an office and is affiliated with the Niagara Sleep Center in Wheatfield.
"We spend one third of our lives sleeping. It's as important as food, water, exercise," Ventresca said. "Our overall sense of well-being is disrupted if we don't get a good night's sleep."
Lack of proper sleep due to sleep apnea can also lead to increased motor vehicle crashes, work-related accidents, poor job performance, depression and family discord, he said.
After a sleep study, most doctors recommend CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure). A small machine gently blows air into your nose to prevent the airway from collapsing.
Doug Mooradian, director of marketing and public relations for Health System Services, has sleep apnea. He said he can relate to what his customers go through getting used to CPAP therapy. Customers may have to try several different styles of CPAP masks before finding one that is comfortable. Problems can include adjusting the mask too tightly, lack of humidity, or even your own sleep routine.
"The first few months are an adjustment," he said. "We can always work with you."
Grand Island resident Gail Curtin was among those attending Saturday's program. A CPAP patient for about a month, she says, "I'm still adjusting. They're very helpful here with everything."
Mooradian said Sleep Apnea Education Day was the second education program held by Health System Services in the past six months. The first was Diabetes Awareness Day. The company plans to offer more special events on health topics every three or four months.