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Movement Launched to Raise Awareness about Obstructive Sleep Apnea

A statewide education initiative called PROJECT: OSA has been launched by the Tennessee Sleep Society (TSS). The announcement was made at the society's annual conference at the Franklin Marriott Convention Center in Franklin, Tennessee.

PROJECT: OSA is a "grass roots" movement to raise awareness about Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). The TSS has adopted this project to fulfill its mission to provide public education and to create a united voice within the Tennessee sleep medicine community to address this serious chronic condition.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea is one of the most common sleep disorders. It is estimated that OSA affects 12-18 million individuals in the United States. That makes the disorder as common as asthma and diabetes.

OSA is the repetitive blockage of the upper airway during sleep. These episodes of suffocation cause a decrease in blood oxygen that leads to brief awakenings to re-establish an open airway.

There are many symptoms related to OSA, but the most common are loud snoring and daytime sleepiness. Snoring is due to the narrowing of the upper airway prior to complete blockage. Daytime sleepiness is the result of fragmented sleep related to the frequent awakenings to open the airway.

OSA, left untreated, can significantly increase the risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, depression, fatigue-related accidents and sudden death.

"When you consider how high Tennessee ranks for obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes, we can't help but conclude from those figures that the prevalence of obstructive sleep apnea is very high in this state", said Jackie Derrick, RPSGT, R. EEG T, President, Tennessee Sleep Society. "PROJECT: OSA will target the consumer and primary care practitioners through creative communication pathways", said Gene Turney, CRT, RPSGT, PROJECT: OSA Chairman. "We want the consumer to recognize their symptoms and act upon them quickly before the associated risks are realized. Research and surveys continue to show that a high percentage of primary care practitioners do not routinely screen for sleep disorders. This project wants to lower that percentage and help primary care practitioners 'ask the sleep question' by designing a simple screening tool. Ultimately, our goal is that sleep will be recognized as a true key to wellness and that any condition that disrupts or shortens sleep, like obstructive sleep apnea, will be taken seriously."

The Tennessee Sleep Society (TSS) is a non-profit professional organization comprised of sleep medicine professionals dedicated to providing public and professional education in Sleep Disorders and Sleep Medicine, to promoting the advancement of sleep medicine, and to insuring its membership has a voice in national, state and regional policy making. For more information, go to the TSS website at

Published Apil 10, 2011

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