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She is using oxygen only at bedtime at the present time. I’m just not sure about putting her through this change at her age. We just recently switched to a different heart doctor and I just don’t know if this is just extra money for the doctor or if my mom really needs this at this time?


She was diagnosed with COPD about 20 years ago and has stopped/quit smoking 10 years ago. She does suffer from CHF/A-Fib, and has occasional swelling in feet and legs, takes a diuretic for that when needed. The Doctor said she has a strong heart but does have mitro valve prolapse. She also has a pacemaker.


Does anyone of y’all’s parents use CPAP at this age of life? Mom has limited mobility issues. I’m just uncertain if she really needs this or not? Any thoughts or comments would be greatly appreciated.


Thank you & God Bless

This is a question to ask Mom. Show her some videos such as on youtube of the c-pap. Ask her if she would want to have this. Explain to her why, and what studies would be needed to assess it.
NPR recently made a short segment on the fact that we stop speaking with out seniors and ask EVERYONE ELSE what should be done. Ask Mom.
Going to your maker in your sleep is, to my mind, the easiest was in the world to go there. If now at 78 someone suggested to me "You may die in your sleep of sleep apnea" I would say "Really??? That sounds GREAT". So no, I wouldn't be doing it. For some others they will say "WHAT!!!!! I want that machine!"
ASK MOM. And my best wishes out to you both.
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Reply to AlvaDeer
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Your profile says she suffers from Dementia. A sleep study is usually done at a facility. It means spending the night there and being hooked up to monitor. She will be in a strange place with strange people. Even if u were allowed to stay, people suffering from Dementia don't do well in unfamiliar places. They do have "in home" services but even then she will need to be hooked up to something. And she definitely will not like using a CPAP mask. She probably will keep pulling it off. I am surprised she doesn't fool with the oxygen. I really don't see what the CPAP will accomplish that the oxygen doesn't provide. But then I have never used a CPAP machine nor have I had to use oxygen.

Hope you get some better answers.
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Reply to JoAnn29
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I believe very few people that have the sleep study doesn’t end up recommended for a CPAP. My dad got both in his eighties. After many months of trying it, going through most every type of mask, and finding his sleep completely interrupted by the machine, tubing and mask, he returned all of it. He told the doctor that it was ruining his plans to die in his sleep!
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Reply to Daughterof1930
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My Dh wore a CPAP off and on for a few years. He never was completely compliant with it, so I doubt it helped.

A LOT of people simply cannot sleep with them on. They are also annoying to the mates of those who wear them.

My DH had 2 heart attacks 2 years and afterwards, when he lost a lot of weight, he stopped using the CPAP. He has gained back the weight and snores like a buffalo---and I deal with it by sleeping in another room.

On a humorous note, my 90 yo MIL holds the mask on her face and 'breathes the beneficial vapors' until she is drowsy and the turns the machine off and sleeps w/o it.

I have never met a person who did a sleep study who was NOT recommended by the sleep doc to use a CPAP. Hm. Gives pause for thought.
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Reply to Midkid58
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I use a CPAP, and I love mine as I sleep like a baby where before I didn't. However... if your mom has any dementia (like you stated she does in your profile) I would say a hard "no" to this.
- Sleep studies are very expensive and may not be covered by her insurance. My doctor suggested I have one once my deductible was met in the last quarter of the year ($7,000)
- Sleep studies need to take place in a clinic bedroom setting, so not conducive to the elderly having an accurate study (need to place lots of paste-on sensors, etc)
- Finding the right mask that works for her will be difficult if she has cognitive issues; the right mask is essential to achieving the best sleep and making all the effort worthwhile
- She needs to clean the mask daily and maintain the equipment in general (cleaning or replacing parts when necessary)
I just don't think the cost or effort for either of you will be worth the non-guaranteed outcome.
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Reply to Geaton777
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For some reason, the CPAP machine seems to be the "NEW MIRACLE DRUG/Machine" and "Everyone"--including Captain Kirk (William Shatner)--is talking about how "wonderful" it is to use. And how "GREAT" the machines that clean the CPAP are.

It all depends on WHY your Mom's new heart doctor wants her to use a CPAP. Does the heart doctor think that there is a correlation between your Mom's A-Fib and sleep? Does the heart doctor think that your Mom is experiencing A-Fib more often when she is asleep than when she is awake? If so, then the pacemaker is having to work more often to regulate your Mom's heart rate.

Why is your Mom using oxygen only at night and not during the daytime when she is taking a nap or sitting in a chair/recliner? Does your Mom's oxygen saturations drop significantly while she is sleeping or napping compared to when she is awake? Sometimes these are indications that the person might have sleep apnea and need a CPAP.

My Mom had A-Fib and had a pacemaker put in when she was 70 years old. She used a CPAP from age 80 until her death at age 87. It did seem to help her sleep better.

I have been using a CPAP since age 50 because I quit breathing for 10-15+ seconds and/or my windpipe collapses thus causing me to wake up gasping for air because I can't get my breathe. Very, very frightening!! If I ever want to "die in my sleep", all I will need to do is NOT use my CPAP and make sure that I am sedated enough so that I do not wake up when I quit breathing. 💤

You need to talk with your Mom's new heart doctor and ask him/her why he/she thinks that your Mom could benefit from using a CPAP machine.
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Reply to DeeAnna
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Not sure how 'strong a heart' your mother has with A-fib, CHF, COPD, a pacemaker and mitro valve prolapse!!!! Let's face it. My mother has many of those conditions herself and her doctor has NEVER said she has a 'strong heart' at ALL!

That said, she's on oxygen at night as well. My husband is 62, and was 55 when he got a CPAP machine. Let me tell you.......it took him about 4 MONTHS at least to get used to sleeping with the mask! He'd wake up constantly throughout the night and take it off, waking me up in the process. I'd make him put it back on after a 5 minute reprieve. This went on for months before he stopped waking up and stopped fighting me about wanting to KEEP the mask off. He hated it. It was bearish to get acclimated to, and he was in his 50's at the time and not a disagreeable human as a rule. Once he got used to it, he can't sleep without it.

An 84 year old woman with THIS many issues being asked to also wear a mask over her face while sleeping may be a bit too much to tolerate, in my opinion. Besides, who's going to sleep with her for a few months to make sure she keeps that mask on all night? If your mother has dementia, a CPAP would be out of the question because I'm sure she would NOT understand why some contraption is on her face all night long!!! Trying to explain things to a dementia patient is an exercise in futility.

Just something to think about. My mother is almost 94 with more issues than Newsweek. The last thing I want for her is another issue, be it a CPAP mask or whatever, you know? I am a proponent of a palliative care approach...........do the minimum medical interference possible and give them the best quality of what remains of their life. Of course, that's just MY take on things, and others will have a different view, I'm sure.

Best of luck, whatever you and her doctor decide upon.
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Reply to lealonnie1
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The sleep study can be done at home. She would need to go in the afternoon before to have the sensors set up. The equipment is returned to the office the next day so they can read the results.

Our HMO did the results in a classroom setting. If I recall correctly, 10-20% of the class ambled out after the doctor leading the group announced that anyone with numbers under a certain level wouldn't require the CPAP therapy.

Cleaning is recommended, but a lot of people are hit or miss with following a regular schedule. Changing the filter is easy.

Oxygen can be hooked up to run through the same mask, let them know to put the adapter on the equipment ahead of time so they don't make you wait while they hunt it down.
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Reply to Frebrowser
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When I first read the title and your thread introduction, I was supportive of having a sleep study done, but I initially misinterpreted and thought you meant just an overnight study to determine how frequently her SAT rate might have dropped, as a precedent to consideration of oxygen use during the day as well.   

This is how our pulmonary doctor approached the issue of my father's oxygen use...nights at first, keep testing, especially when in the office, and determine if the need had increased to daytime use.  

Since the pulmonary and cardiac doctors could access each other's records b/c they both served from the same hospital, the former could check the latter's records and get results of the periodic pacemaker tests.    So she would know if his cardiac condition was deteriorating.   

Oxygen was used, a CPAP was never discussed.   I guess I'm wondering if your mother is using oxygen at night, why wouldn't this new doctor consider it during the day instead of a CPAP machine?

From what I've read, CPAP's are uncomfortable, and not something easily adapted to, while adding a cannula may be a bit uncomfortable and annoying (especially without the ear pads), but not as much so as a CPAP machine.

I can't help thinking that this new doctor might just be partial to this particular mode of treatment.  And, BTW, how did you choose this doctor?  Or was he recommended by someone else?   Is there a reason why you left the previous doctor?    Also, is this a young doctor or an experienced, wizened practitioner?
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Reply to GardenArtist
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Does your mother have a primary care physician with whom you could discuss the situation? You'd want to consider all options before deciding whether to move forward with the cardiologist's recommendation, and input from someone who's familiar with her health might be helpful. There are CPAP machines that do not have a full face mask, and are much easier to adapt. In addition, it is possible to have a sleep study at home.
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Reply to Amywoody
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I see both sides of this. Yes, a CPAP can be hard to adapt to. But it may add years to your moms life.

I wear one myself, and can’t sleep well without it, unless I’m in a chair.

I have a friend who needs one, but refuses, because he hopes to die in his sleep.
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Reply to OldernWiser
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Beware the medical the medical system and particularly arrogant practitioners who do not care to take the time to get to know their patients and understand them and their situations/ thoughts on things. Also those encouraged or demanded by their paycheck signers to churn a patient for every imaginable test they can milk them for. I was very sick and scared (Not COVID concerns or related) about 2 months ago...was in ER...had CT....MD wants to ship me to another hospital because the one I was at didn't do GYN surgeries and her belief was that although I'd had no issues for all these decades, and knew about this issue no less than 3 years ago (enlarged uterus/fibroids) she believed my symptoms were being caused by an obstructed bowel caused by the uterus/fibroids pressing on it. I didn't believe it. Still don't. For multiple reasons I won't go into here and also because I knew I had a hiatal hernia...I didn't believe her and still don't. Had I gone alone with the MD and Major God my whole life and body would have been turned upside down and the stress would have been enormous especially separated from those I love and my caregiving responsibilities. None of which she or anyone else cared about. These "new" MD's can be a major risk to our well-being.
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Reply to gdaughter
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I do know sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, etc. can compromise the heart.

They have made cpap nasals where you do not have to wear the cpap over face and mouth. A lot more comfortable.

At your mom's age, I can understand your concern.
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Reply to haileybug
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You and some of the posters here seem to equate having a sleep test with being fitted for a CPAP machine. Well, it's true the majority are prescribed the machine. But a sleep test is to determine if sleep apnea is present. It's a test. Taking your blood pressure is a test. It's just that taking your blood pressure is a lot quicker and a lot less expensive (and recommended for everyone). Once you get the test results you decide what to do next. Your test could be negative for sleep apnea. As noted, the majority are not negative, but it's possible. On the one hand I think sleep tests are under used. On the other hand, I think they are way too expensive. They wire you up and monitor your sleeping. Why should this cost thousands? There are people who will do it for less in some areas though I can't vouch for them.

Sleep apnea if you have it causes your brain not to receive sufficient oxygen during sleep. You might read up on sleep apnea. The CPAP machine is for treating sleep apnea. Some people have reported success by losing weight or playing a dgiridoo or even just doing neck exercises. The doctor might not even mention these things.
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Reply to BedfordPark
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I wish I could have a answer for you but I don’t. My first thought was why did you switch her heart doctor? Secondly, did you ask the new doctor why he wanted to involve your mom in the sleep study, and why was he recommending this CPAP machine without the results from the sleep study test? I’ve learned the hard way, when your caring for someone who can’t care for themselves, you make yourself question everything anyone suggest doctor or not. Just because they put on a white coat, and hang a stethoscope around their neck, doesn’t mean they know everything. I was fooled by this way too many times, and let my own natural ability and common sense to take over, finally. I had ZERO medical knowledge whatsoever and would take each and every word the doctors or anyone medical would say, prescribe, etc., as Gospel. Until, I was told my child would never get better. Joke on them, and I can assure you they don’t like having questions asked of them. TO BAD. It’s my responsibility to see everything can be done, get done, and researched everything over the last five years. Yes, they were lining their pockets and preventing my child from rehabilitating by medications she was prescribed by people we tend to trust automatically. After assisted titration off several medications, my daughter started thriving to the point of having the ability to walk again. Please don’t be me and start asking the doctor face to face, not over the phone. The expression you see on their face is worth more than you can ever imagine!! Good Luck!!!
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JoAnn29 Sep 26, 2020
There was a Dr. Phil showcwhere a child, even though medicated was still a problem. In the end, it was found that he was diagnosed wrong and those meds interacted with each other. He was taken off all the meds, reevaluated and given what he needed. Different kid. Yes, you have question, question, question.
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I am 60 years old and after several years of denial (my spouse noted that I was waking up in the night, stopping breathing etc) finally agreed to a sleep study-and guess what-I was waking up 49 times per hour!! So sleep apnea can be suggested as an issue when certain co-occurring things are present-such as the patient feeling they don't sleep well, waking up tired, etc. But a sleep study will confirm and it really isn't all that unpleasant, one just has a lot of monitors on. I use the nasal "pillow" type and it's just fine-no more bothersome than an oxygen cannula I'd suspect. Yes, as others have mentioned, apnea can affect the heart. So my humble suggestion is to listen to the doc and arrange for the sleep study-it could make your mother's years a bit easier.....
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Reply to Mellcan
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I’m a Sleep Technologist and caregiver of 85 yo FIL with vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s. I performed sleep studies from 1-1/2 year olds to 98 year olds with various co-morbities. My suggestion is to perform an in lab sleep study and caregiver can stay overnight with patient. Monitoring oxygen level is different when sleeping. Diagnostic sleep study (PSG) is performed overnight in sleep lab monitoring brain, heart, O2, ETCO2, body position, sleep apnea. No pain or needles. EEG wires are placed on scalp to monitor sleep stages. Home studies are available but do not monitor heart, brain or leg movements, just gives us an idea if person has sleep apnea. Many people are on CPAP for sleep apnea, which helps oxygenating the body, opening the airway, sleeping and wake without exhaustion, helps the heart run smoothly. It’s not O2, it’s filtrated air. It’s a very informative test. Just like we need food and air to live, we need sleep for our bodies to repair, oxygenate, and overall health. Please feel free to contact me if you have further questions! 🥰
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AndreaE Sep 27, 2020
my mom has many of the same issues as the OP. She was told she needed a Bi-pap which as you know, is different than a c-pap. I'm wondering if that is what the doctor is recommending since the op's mom is immobile and probably is getting a buildup of carbon dioxide. That is the reason my mom needs the bi pap. She cannot expel the carbon dioxide as she does not exhale fully enough. Thoughts?
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I am 72 and just started on a CPAP it made a world of difference in how I feel. If the sleep study shows she has sleep apnea. She could benefit from it. The question is whether she is willing to use the machine. I had sleep apnea all my life. and tried the thearpy at different times. The machines, were noisy cumbersome and tricky to opperate. These new machines are amazing.
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Reply to MsRandall
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Does Mum get up during the night? I have friends and family members who use CPAP and they have mentioned it is a challenge to disconnect the machine when getting up during the night.
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Reply to Tothill
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Your mom may possibly have many more years to live and I would listen to this Heart Dr. Heart arrhythmia can be caused or exacerbated by sleep apnea. The latest CPAP equipment is smaller and easier to use, if she needs it. If she has COPD, depending on how advanced it is, it may help promote oxygen availability and prevent brain cells from suffering anoxia.
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Reply to JaneDee
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I've heard CPAP is not advised after a certain age. That we ALL will get sleep apnea to some degree as it is a what happens to an aging body. My parent's doctor advised against it as they were both in their 80's. He deemed it unnecessary.
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Reply to renoir
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My mother's pulmonologist tried to push a CPAP on her -- at 85 years of age -- and we just told him there's no way she'd ever use it, so we declined all the studying and such.

She'd get up to go to the bathroom every two hours, so of course she'd never use the thing.

She's still plugging along just fine at 91.

It OK to say no. Some doctors like to try everything, but you aren't obligated to go along with it.
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Reply to MJ1929
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Manson Sep 26, 2020
I do not like your answer at all especially since I have CPAP. The main reason for sleep apnea is constant getting up all night and when I wasn't using CPAP machine because I didn't know I had sleep apnea, I would wake up all night long and go to the bathroom. That's what you do with sleep apnea. If she was sleeping all night as one should you would not be getting up all night to go to the bathroom.
My whole life has changed for the better in CPAP machine. It's the best thing that has happened to me since afflicted with this and I feel 210% better!! The test is simple and I do not know why anyone would discourage the poster???
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to me it sounds lie you have a very smart heart DR and I don't say that lightly since I think the majority of the DRs here where I live are idiots. Actually I would like to know the town you live in and the DR who is saying this because I might go to this person.
I have always wondered why when there are heart problems in an individual why the DRs do not look into sleep apnea issues first. That to me is the baseline probability of heart problems as this happened to me. If an elder needs CPAP and you do not use it this will only lead to more heart problems and possibly a bypass surgery guaranteed.
Putting on a CPAP mask is nothing the challenge is because they are elderly are they going to keep it on all night? That's your problem. Hope someone is living with your mother to monitor this. I will also add because I have been reading the comments - - - - anyone saying to you that you should not do this sleep test to find out if she has sleep apnea is just contributing to your mother's death and they should shut up, they are not DRs. Sleep apnea is essentially a slow killer. Not kidding. It's the easiest thing to overcome. We are not talking about brain surgery here, we are talking an easy fix to get your mother healthy again...OMG>>.
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MaryKathleen Sep 26, 2020
Manson, your comments, which are true for you may not apply in all cases. I have always had to get up at night to pee. Now in my old age, I take a medicine which causes me to retain water. I will put on approximately 2 pounds a day. At night, I am up almost every 2 hours peeing. I have a full bladder, I have a hard time believing if I had more oxygen I wouldn't do that. Oh, 3 times I tried to change medicines and each time I ended up in the ER with my BP 220/110.

To say that people who question the sleep test are contributing to her mother's death seems over the top to me. Remember, this woman is old with dementia.
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I'm facing this same issue with my almost 93 year old father. He had a sleep study about a year and a half ago. Gave the Cpap a try for only about 2 weeks and then refused it. He wears an oxygen canella at night. However, just recently I inherited his care. I sat there during a nap and watched him. It was scary how he would stop breathing for long periods of time and then sort of have a little seizure and wake up to gasp. I watched it long enough to know we should try again as he has become more docile. I realize he may again refuse the cpap but I want to see if I can convince him (I have been convincing him to do other things he has refused). I'm going to ask to try the nasal pillow type to see if he can tolerate it better. My dad's heart is bad but his lung function has worsened considerably in the year and a half since he was tested previously. It may not work and I'm sure he has a right to refuse using it but we're going to try. Sleep study is at home at least
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Reply to marydys
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I use it on a nightly basis; the difference in energy when using it is noteworthy. I would recomend having the sleep study to see if she needs it first.
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Reply to Discoveries
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I am the same age as your mom, and just had my 4th sleep study. I have been using a cpap for 25 years and the reason to use a cpap is assist with your breathing while sleeping. If a patient wakes up because of sleep apnea ... stopping breathing ... or snores, a sleep study will determine if it is an issue. That's all it does and it is paid in full by Medicare. SHARONLAGS gives an excellent description about the sleep study. If you mom needs a cpap machine, it will likely lengthen her life and she will feel so much better. The biggest challenge would be finding a good fit, and a good respiration therapist will be very helpful with that. Their service is provided by the company where you will get the cpap machine. You don't say where you live, but if in the San Diego area, there is an excellent DME (durable medical equipment) company in that area.
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Reply to SuzyQB
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MaryKathleen Sep 26, 2020
Do you get up at night to pee or have other problems with your body like leg cramps?
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I did not know I had sleep apnea until finally a doctor ordered a sleep test. Thank god I did. I had 78 episodes in five hours and anyone could have killed me. I wear my sleep CPAP nightly and sleep so get and I feel so much safer. If more people wore them, more lives could be saved. Get it done right now.
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Reply to Riley2166
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Does your mom snore or stop breathing when she sleeps? If so, the sleep study will help determine her needs. Please be careful with oxygen use since many COPDers respiratory drive is linked to CO2 levels not O2 levels. Your Mom should have a respiratory doctor who can advise you better about her need for oxygen and if she needs a sleep study. Have the new heart doctor consult with her respiratory doctor.
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AndreaE Sep 27, 2020
Exactly! My mom is 76 with Afib and COOD and uses a Bi-pap. It pulls the CO2 out of her body. The last time she was in the hospital the doctors assumed it was a cpap and didn't put her on it and couldn't figure out why she was becoming confused and hard to wake in a matter of 18 hours. By the time i went back i asked where her machine was and why they did not have her hooked up to it. They had no idea that it was a bi-pap.
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Both my partner and I have sleep apnoea, we're both 59. I'm actually sat outside the hospital having just had to take a 90 min bus journey to deliver hers as she was taken in suddenly with myasthenia gravis complications. They said they'd none spare. I know the relief she'll get from it, especially with her current problems. I couldn't manage without mine even though I believe i need further investigation into sleep problems. If its needed it can be a godsend and so I'd advise anyone to use it if advised.
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Reply to Walrus77
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I don’t know about the age issue but my brother he didn’t like to use his C-Pap machine, it didn’t fit right and instead of going back and getting it adjusted he just didn’t wear it. He died at age 62 when he stopped breathing in his sleep.
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worriedinCali Sep 26, 2020
I’m so sorry. My mother’s dear friend lost her husband similarly. The irony was, he had gone out of town for his brothers funeral & didn’t take his CPAP and he died in his sleep.
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