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31st January 2020 Latest News Sleep

Sorting out sleep to improve heart health

Dr Sarah Appleton

Improving sleep diagnosis in men.

People affected by obstructive sleep apnoea, where the upper airway collapses while they are sleeping, have an increased risk of developing many health problems such as high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke.

Chronic disease epidemiologist Dr Sarah Appleton from Flinders University is progressing lifesaving research on this condition in men to improve diagnosis and prevent these associated health issues.

“We and others have previously identified that undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnoea is very common in the community,” Dr Appleton said.

“It is also linked to the development of cardiovascular disease and related conditions including diabetes, hypertension, depression and cognitive impairment, increased mortality and accident risk.”

Dr Appleton and her team have been tracking men’s sleep for many years now and thanks to the support from our donor community, have been able to better define who is at risk from obstructive sleep apnoea which will allow a more personalised approach to managing the condition.

“Recently we’ve been able to conduct follow ups of nearly 1,000 men, which means we now have data spanning over 20 years which is just amazing,” Dr Appleton said.

“Thanks to funding from Australian Heart Research (AHR), we were able to re-do the sleep studies 20 years on and see how men had progressed over time and look at what factors are associated with the development of obstructive sleep apnoea.

“Currently, this data is being analysed around the world through partners in Switzerland and America who can analyse the sleep signals of these men which is incredible.

“Over the next 12 months we will be generating numerous publications including longitudinal risks of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, falls, frailty, and mortality associated with standard and novel obstructive sleep apnoea and sleep metrics developed by our team using machine learning (algorithms).

“This data collection is immense in terms of future work and opportunity for this world leading research.”

The great news is Dr Appleton, together with Professor Robert Adams and a team from the Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health, has received further funding from the NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence to Optimise Sleep in Brain Ageing and Neurodegeneration (University of Sydney), which was made possible from AHR’s seed funding.

“Thanks to AHR’s donor community, our work could lead to life-changing discoveries for people living with obstructive sleep apnoea!”