New guidelines on treating obstructive sleep apnea with positive airway pressure include recommendations for using positive airway pressure (PAP) versus no therapy, using either continuous PAP (CPAP) or automatic PAP (APAP) for ongoing treatment, and providing educational interventions to patients starting PAP. The complete guidelines, issued by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, were published in the.
The guidelines were driven by improvements in PAP adherence and device technology, wrote lead authorof Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, and his colleagues.
The guidelines begin with a pair of Good Practice Statements to ensure effective and appropriate management of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in adults. First, “Treatment of OSA with PAP therapy should be based on a diagnosis of OSA established using objective sleep apnea testing.” Second, “Adequate follow-up, including troubleshooting and monitoring of objective efficacy and usage data to ensure adequate treatment and adherence, should occur following PAP therapy initiation and during treatment of OSA.”
The nine recommendations, approved by the AASM board of directors, include four strong recommendations that clinicians should follow under most circumstances, and five conditional recommendations that are suggested but lack strong clinical support for their appropriateness for all patients in all circumstances.
The first of the strong recommendations, for using PAP versus no therapy to treat adults with OSA and excessive sleepiness, was based on a high level of evidence from a meta-analysis of 38 randomized, controlled trials and the conclusion that the benefits of PAP outweighed the harms.
The second strong recommendation for using either CPAP or APAP for ongoing treatment was based on data from 26 trials that showed no clinically significant difference between the two. The third strong recommendation that PAP therapy be initiated using either APAP at home or in-laboratory PAP titration in adults with OSA and no significant comorbidities was supported by a meta-analysis of 10 trials that showed no clinically significant difference between at-home and laboratory initiation, and that each option has its benefits. The authors noted that “the majority of well-informed adult patients with OSA and without significant comorbidities would prefer initiation of PAP using the most rapid, convenient, and cost-effective strategy.” This comment supports the fourth strong recommendation for providing educational interventions to patients starting PAP.
The conditional recommendations include using PAP versus no therapy for adults with OSA and impaired quality of life related to poor sleep, such as insomnia, snoring, morning headaches, and daytime fatigue. Other conditional recommendations include using PAP versus no therapy for adults with OSA and comorbid hypertension, choosing CPAP or APAP over bilateral PAP for routine treatment of OSA in adults, providing behavioral interventions or troubleshooting during patients’ initial use of PAP, and using telemonitoring-guided interventions to monitor patients during their initial use of PAP.
“The ultimate judgment regarding any specific care must be made by the treating clinician and the patient, taking into consideration the individual circumstances of the patient, available treatment options, and resources,” the authors noted.
“When implementing the recommendations, providers should consider additional strategies that will maximize the individual patient’s comfort and adherence such as nasal/intranasal over oronasal mask interface and heated humidification,” they added.
The guidelines were developed by a task force commissioned by the AASM that included board-certified sleep specialists and experts in PAP use, and will be reviewed and updated as new information surfaces, the authors wrote.
Dr. Patil reported no financial conflicts; several coauthors reported conflicts that were managed by their not voting on guidelines related to those conflicts.