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Letter from Maha Ahmad, MD MMSc

Dear Patients of Home Sleep and Respiratory Care,

We hope you and your family are safe during this national health emergency.  Good sleep is more important now, more than ever, not only to help bolster your immune system, but also to give you the energy and resolve to deal with the challenges of this new environment we find ourselves in. 

Please know that we are here to serve you and support you through these difficult times via telemedicine and telephone visits.

Many of you have questions regarding your usage of CPAP/BiPAP/ASV during this time.  There is no scientific data on the interactions of COVID-19 and Obstructive Sleep Apnea or CPAP as of yet, but based on our experience and our review of American Academy of Sleep Medicine and CDC Guidelines:

  1. It is unclear whether CPAP may make the coronavirus worse. Patients should continue with their CPAP therapy unless otherwise advised by their physician.  Please be aware that using CPAP could increase the risk of spreading the virus to others around you.  We recommend that the CPAP user should sleep in a separate bedroom to minimize the risk of aerosolization of respiratory droplets to others.
  2. Please continue to follow the recommended cleaning procedures for the machine, tubing, mask, filter, and humidifier: Respironics device cleaning instructions, and Resmed device cleaning instructions.
  3. If you are having difficulty obtaining distilled water for your humidifier, you may consider purified bottled water without added minerals, or boiling and cooling tap or filtered water as a temporary solution. If you opt for the latter option, make sure to clean the humidifier thoroughly as minerals left behind in tap water may cause excess mineral buildup in the tub.  Another option is to forgo using the humidifier during this period of time (if you are able to tolerate), until such time that you are able to access distilled water.
  4. CPAP machines are NOT ventilators and would require significant rework in order to function as a ventilator. Bilevel positive airway pressure (BiPAP) machines may be used to support patients with mild respiratory insufficiency, provided appropriate monitoring.  So it is possible that BiPAP may provide some level of ventilatory support to some COVID-19 patients but should be done so in a monitored setting under the guidance of a physician.  If you or someone you know is having difficulty breathing, please contact your healthcare provider immediately.  Do not try to self-treat on your own at home with your CPAP or BiPAP machine.

Sincerely Yours,

Maha Ahmad, MD, MMSc
Medical Director
Sleep Disorders Institute

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