Current estimates assume 25 to 30 percent of the population in the Western countries to suffer from sleep disorders like obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSA). Many of these cases can effectively be treated. Even though untreated sleep disorders are known to considerably constrain the quality of life of concerned people, the majority of the patients do not receive appropriate medical diagnosis and care. A diagnosis in a sleep laboratory implies, besides remarkable stress for the patient, an enormous time exposure and high costs in human resources. Together with the limited number of diagnostic stations, this leads to the effect of long term unrecognized sleep apnea syndrome .
Within the scope of the Personal Health Monitor project a device is being developed to serve as preliminary diagnostic system when a patient is suspected of having OSA. Special attention is given for the development of an easy to handle and low stress measurement system. In this way, a meaningful medical control during the therapy is also possible.
A simple, but effective possibility to control the respiratory activity of patients is the analysis of breath sounds. These are acquired by an electronic system and subsequently classified by means of digital signal processing algorithms.
By monitoring patients with sleep apnea, the system automatically detects the moments when respiratory discontinuities occur, and measures the snore intensity. After the measurements, statistics are created, which serve as basis for future treatment. In this way, the risk of the disease can be determined and the success of a therapy, evaluated.
The integration into the Personal Health Monitor allows easy combination of the measurements with those of other sensors. Especially the combination with ECG, blood pressure measurement and pulse oximetry offers meaningful diagnostics, similar to those gained in a sleep laboratory. Compared to measurements taken in a sleep laboratory this system offers long term measurements without considerable limitations of the patient’s quality of life .
Personal Health Monitor (PHMon)