Home sleep studies are a good option for many patients with sleep apnea, writes an editor at Harvard Health Publications.

In a recent large study of patients suspected of having sleep apnea, effectiveness of treatment for patients who were diagnosed using information from replicated home sleep studies was compared to those diagnosed with data from a sleep laboratory. The investigators found that improvements in sleepiness and quality of life were the same. These results are reassuring, and add to the increasing amount of information indicating that home sleep studies may be used to confirm the diagnosis of sleep apnea in most patients.

Although a home sleep study can be used to confirm a diagnosis of sleep apnea in the majority of patients, some really should be studied in a sleep laboratory — these include persons with underlying heart or lung disease and certain chronic medical conditions, as well as those who are suspected of having sleep disorders other than sleep apnea. Most importantly, home sleep studies can be incorrect and miss the diagnosis of sleep apnea, or underestimate its severity. If a home sleep study suggests the presence of sleep apnea, then it makes sense to go ahead and treat it. However, if the home sleep study is negative, a laboratory sleep study should be performed.

Read the rest at health.harvard.edu