Clarifying Sleep Airflow Obstruction: William Noah, MD


The director and founder of the Sleep Centers of Middle Tennessee discussed the misleading nature of the term ‘sleep apnea.’

“We want to change the term ‘sleep apnea’ to ‘sleep airflow obstruction’ because it would include both partial obstructions, which are more common, and the complete obstructions. It's not the degree of obstruction that is dangerous. It's the duration of the obstruction.”

Patients that received positive airway pressure (PAP) therapy machines as part of care from an integrated sleep practice (ISP) had better long-term adherence to the therapy than those who received machines from traditional durable medical equipment suppliers (DMEs), according to a recent study conducted by Sleep Centers of Middle Tennessee.

The study illustrates the benefits of receiving comprehensive and specialized care. NeurologyLive reached out to William Noah, MD, senior author of the study and the director and founder of the Sleep Centers of Middle Tennessee, to learn more about the challenges of treating and diagnosing sleep apnea. (Editor’s note: Noah was kind enough to speak with us while snowed in and working at his farm, so he asks that you please excuse his appearance on video.)

Noah discussed pharmacological treatment for sleep apnea that is currently being evaluated in phase 2 studies. He also stressed that the term ‘sleep apnea’ can be misleading and talked about his team’s efforts to change the term to ‘sleep airflow obstruction.’

Andry JM, Tobin G, Shafin C, Noah W. Positive airway pressure therapy supplied by an integrated sleep practice associated with greater adherence among pre–Medicare-aged patients with sleep-disordered breathing. J Clin Sleep Med. 2021. 17(1):31-36. doi: 10.5664/jcsm.8786
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