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Are At-Home Apnea Tests Accurate?

June 12, 2023

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Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that affects millions of people worldwide that causes poor sleep quality and daytime fatigue. Traditionally, diagnosing sleep apnea requires an overnight stay at a sleep center for an in-clinic polysomnography test, which involves monitoring many parameters during sleep. However, these tests have become a more convenient and cost-effective alternative in recent years. But the question remains: Are at-home apnea tests accurate?  

How Do At-Home Apnea Tests Work?

At-home apnea tests are convenient devices that allow individuals to monitor their breathing patterns and detect potential signs of sleep apnea from their homes. These tests record airflow, oxygen levels, heart rate, and sometimes snoring patterns—an in-office sleep test records all of this data but with more detailed data. A healthcare professional later analyzes the data collected during the test to determine the presence and severity of sleep apnea.

Accuracy of Home Tests

At-home apnea tests are fairly accurate; experts say these apnea tests have a 7-8% failure rate. Despite these low failure rates, these tests are only recommended for some. Some have much better results from at-home tests than others. Here’s who can benefit the most from them and who may need to visit a sleep clinic.

  • Those who suspect moderate to severe sleep apnea. Because in-clinic tests generally offer more sensitivity and comprehensiveness than at-home tests, experts recommend them for individuals with less severe sleep apnea.
  • Symptoms like snoring or gasping, disrupted sleep, or daytime sleepiness highly suggestive of more severe sleep apnea are more suited to at-home tests. 
  • Those with risk factors. We know well that there is a link between sleep apnea and conditions like obesity and high blood pressure. Those with multiple risk factors are more likely to have sleep apnea diagnosed by an at-home test.  

Limitations

When considering an at-home apnea test, it’s vital to understand the limitations. The first limiting factor is that these tests are not recommended for patients with pre-existing conditions like lung disease, hypoventilation, or heart failure. Patients with these conditions are not approved to use at-home tests, as they would likely yield inaccurate results.

Secondly, at-home apnea tests are also not recommended for those with other sleep conditions or if you suspect you could have a condition other than sleep apnea. Because the data is less sensitive and comprehensive than an in-clinic test, another sleep disorder may skew the results. 

Talking to your doctor to ensure an at-home apnea test is right for you is essential. They can help you decide if you are a good candidate to get accurate results. 

If you’re ready to order an at-home apnea test, we have a network of suppliers and can coordinate for you. Visit https://advancedhomecareonline.com/sleep-studies/ to begin your journey to recovery. 

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