This information describes sleep apnea and how it can be managed before and after surgery.

Sleep apnea is a common breathing disorder. It causes you to stop breathing for short periods when you are sleeping. The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This means that the airway becomes completely blocked during sleep and there is no airflow. OSA can be a serious risk for death after surgery. Please tell us if you have any of the symptoms listed below. If you have already been diagnosed with sleep apnea, bring your CPAP machine with you on the day of your surgery.

Common Symptoms of OSA

  • Loud snoring
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Fatigue

Keeping You Safe During Surgery

We will take several steps to make sure you do not have problems during and after your surgery.
  • Your doctor or nurse will ask you to answer questions on the STOP questionnaire, including:
    • Do you snore loudly (louder than talking or loud enough to be heard through closed doors)?
    • Do you often feel tired, fatigued, or sleepy during the daytime?
    • Has anyone seen you stop breathing while you were asleep?
    • Do you have high blood pressure? Are you being treated for high blood pressure?
  • If we know you have or are at risk for sleep apnea, we will put a clip on your finger during and after surgery. The clip will sound an alarm if you are not getting enough oxygen.
  • We will change the way we give you pain medication. Pain medication can make sleep apnea much worse.
  • We will make sure your doctors and nurses know that you are at risk for or have sleep apnea.

Sleep Apnea and Your Health

Sleep apnea can cause many problems. Because of daytime sleepiness, people with sleep apnea have an increased risk of accidents from:
  • Driving while sleepy
  • Falling asleep on the job

Snoring strains your heart, lungs, and blood vessels. This can lead to diabetes and serious heart and lung problems. We recommend that you ask your healthcare provider to refer you to a sleep center. You can also contact one on your own.

Untreated OSA can lead to, or worsen:
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart failure
  • Stroke
  • Irregular heart beat

We will do everything we can to make sure you are safe while you are in the hospital. We hope you will go a step further and find out how to treat your sleep apnea. This will help to prevent serious health problems in the future.