Reena Mehra, MD, MS: Wearable Technologies for Sleep Apnea

April 27, 2020

The director of the Sleep Disorders Research Program at Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine discussed new technologies being used to diagnose and treat sleep apnea.

“The notion is that if obstructive sleep apnea is a very high pretest probability, and you’re pretty certain the patient has it, then the home testing will suffice to realize that diagnosis of sleep apnea.”

The traditional methods of diagnosing obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) have been undertaken in a laboratory setting, typically with the use of polysomnography and and the help of multiple different monitoring techniques such as electroencephalography (EEG) and electromyography. Now, however, sleep apnea can be diagnosed at home with the use of portable wearable devices.

Reena Mehra, MD, MS, director, Sleep Disorders Research Program, Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine, told NeurologyLive that although these devices do not capture the same physiological breathing patterns as the laboratory techniques, they can act as a surrogate for clinicians. Typically, these devices do not directly monitor sleep apnea, but they may detect apneas and hypopneas or an abnormal slowing of breathing.

In this interview, Mehra discussed how at-home wearable devices are expanding the treatment and diagnosis of OSA, and what limitations still remain and come along with the use of these new tools. Additionally, she described the major differences between diagnosis in a laboratory setting compared with an at-home device.