A new study published in the leading medical journal Thorax has revealed important new insights into UK services for the common sleep disorder Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA). The article has identified a “significant and concerning” mismatch between the predicted prevalence of the respiratory condition OSA, and the availability of services with which to diagnose and treat it. We carried out the mapping work on behalf of the British Lung Foundation (BLF), working with leading sleep medicine clinicians from Guys and St Thomas’ Hospital in London.
OSA occurs when neck and throat muscles relax when a person is asleep, causing the airway to get blocked. It can cause an individual to stop breathing momentarily, and this pause in breath can happen hundreds of times a night, resulting in dips in blood oxygen levels and preventing the occurrence of deep sleep. Although relatively easy to treat, OSA is linked with a range of serious health concerns when left undiagnosed and untreated. It can also significantly affect quality of life and ability to work, as well as increasing chances of road traffic accidents as much as seven-fold.
The mapping project sourced and analysed data for a range of factors commonly associated with OSA, such as obesity, age and diabetes. For the first time, variations in OSA prevalence could be estimated for NHS administrative areas and parliamentary constituencies throughout UK. The OSA risk mapping was then plotted against data on the distribution of UK sleep centres, which was also collated for the first time for the study.
The work was commissioned by the British Lung Foundation, with Lovell Johns providing consultancy, data sourcing and validation, GIS dataset creation and map production.The work was all done within a limited budget and we worked closely with the charity throughout to achieve maximum return for this figure. Judy Harris, OSA Project Manager at the BLF, commented: “The team at Lovell Johns were accommodating, professional and approachable. The project was delivered within budget and I am delighted with the results.”
You can view several OSA risk maps and read more about the condition on the BLF website: http://www.blf.org.uk/Page/OSA-map
Steier J, Martin A, Harris J, Jarrold I, Pugh D, Williams A. Predicted relative prevalence estimates for obstructive sleep apnoea and the associated healthcare provision across the UK. Thorax Online First doi 10.1136/thoraxjnl-2013-203887. 2013.