1970-2000 The largest separate unit

Respiratory disorders during sleep

Owing to increased research activities, advances made in breathing treatment machines, and improved examination devices, respiratory disorders during sleep – particularly sleep apnea – entered into the arena of diseases to treat.

The lung clinic of Pikonlinna started diagnosing and treating sleep apnea at the end of the 1980s in co-operation with the department of clinical neurophysiology under the leadership of deputy chief dr. Jaakko Herrala. It was recognized that sleep apnea patients were often obese, and had arrythmia (abnormal heart rhythm) and high blood pressure.

Because of its high prevalence in the population, sleep apnea can be classified as an endemic disease. It occurs when a person’s breathing is repeatedly interrupted during sleep. Pauses lasting up to one minute can be observed in the worst cases. There can be hundreds of pauses during a night’s sleep, which results in the reduction of oxygen in the blood and deterioration of sleep quality, which causes severe daytime drowsiness that may lead to risky situations like sudden onset of sleep while driving a car.

Nasal CPAP therapy is commonly used in obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep apnea patients use a breathing treatment machine in their sleep, which forces air into the lungs through the nose thus keeping the airways open and preventing obstruction of the upper airways. The outcomes of this treatment have been excellent.

Th Pikonlinna’s lung clinic was one of the pioneers in Finland, since its sleep clinic was the first to use the afore-mentioned therapy on a large scale in Pirkanmaa.