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Thoracic Medicine

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Sleep Medicine

Latest News

Often times when we can’t sleep or we feel tired throughout the day, there are common “quick fixes” which we use to help us fall asleep easier and give us an extra boost in the morning. However, some of these habits can often be detrimental to your sleep health, affecting you not just at night, but throughout the day as well.

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New research has found that the less we sleep in midlife, the faster our brains can decline and lead to cognitive impairment in old age.

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“What is happening in YOUR sleep?!? How can you really know? Ever thought of using a sleep app? There are some misunderstandings to what data is relevant when using sleep apps so understanding the limitations are IMPORTANT. "It is always recommended to follow up with a sleep study to be sure nothing is missed. “

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A diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) may raise the risk of osteoporosis, particularly among women or older individuals, according to a new study. OSA is a condition that causes brief interruptions in breathing during sleep. If left untreated, OSA can raise the risk for stroke, cardiovascular disease and heart attacks.  New research shows that OSA may also increase the risk of osteoporosis.

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Insomnia predisposes individuals to increased risk of stroke and this association is profound among young adults – up to eight times greater among insomniacs 18 to 34 years old.  The results of a recent study underscore the clinical importance of identifying and treating insomnia.

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Heavy drinking damages the body in many ways. In addition to liver failure, alcoholics are at a much greater risk of developing pneumonia and life threatening acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), for which there is no treatment. Researchers suspect that alcoholics are more susceptible to these lung diseases because the immune system in the lung is no longer strong enough to protect from infection and damage, but, it had been unclear why the immune system in the lung fails.

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COPD

What is COPD?

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is a broad term to define airflow limitation that is not reversible.

A patient usually has a component of emphysema, chronic bronchitis or a combination of the two.

COPD is often associated with a history of cigarette smoking or exposure to hazardous chemicals.

The Stats on COPD*

  • Almost 1 in 5 people over 40 have COPD
  • COPD is the fourth most common cause of death in men and the sixth most common cause of death in women
  • More people are dying from COPD each year
  • COPD is the second leading cause of avoidable hospital admissions

* The Australian Lung Foundation

Symptoms of COPD

  • Coughing
  • Feeling puffed or short of breath when performing tasks such as walking up a hill, climbing stairs or even having a shower
  • A build-up in the lungs of a sticky substance called phlegm which you swallow or cough-up

Diagnosis of COPD

According to the Australian Lung Foundation, spirometry is the gold standard for diagnosing, assessing and monitoring COPD.

The Wesley Lung Function Laboratory offers state-of-the-art lung function testing, including spirometry.

Doctors can download a referral form here

Treatments for COPD

Confirm diagnosis: The diagnosis and severity of COPD are determined by breathing tests such as spirometry, x-rays and blood tests to measure oxygen and carbon dioxide levels.

Optimise function: There are no medications that will cure COPD, but they can make you feel a lot better.  Treatments can include exercise, weight and nutrition management and maintaining good sleep habits.

Prevent deterioration: Quit smoking – it is never too late. Have a flu vaccine annually and a pneumonia vaccine ever five years. See your GP and specialist regularly and ensure you have regular checks of your oxygen levels.

Develop a self-management and support plan: You should have a self-management plan agreed by you, your specialist and other health care workers.

Exacerbations

You should increase your treatment early when you become unwell – this should be part of your action plan developed by your doctor. Notify your GP.

People may be given high flow oxygen when they are extremely breathless, however this may be harmful if you have COPD.

If your doctor advises low flow rates (e.g. 0.5-2 Litres per minute) you should have a medic alert bracelet stating this.

Breathwise Pulmonary Rehabilitation

Breathwise Pulmonary Rehabilitation is a multi-disciplinary program of exercise and education for people with lung disease that runs at The Wesley Hospital.

Working with an experienced team of medical specialists, physiotherapists, nursing staff, occupational therapy, clinical psychologists, and pharmacists, this program will address the primary aims of pulmonary rehabilitation, which are to reduce the disability and handicap of people with chronic lung diseases and to restore patients to the highest possible level of independent functioning.

About the Program

You will need to attend twice a week for 8 weeks.  The program will start off gently and will provide you with a home exercise program so you can remain fit and healthy once you have completed your

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