Diagnostic Device Detects Comorbid Obstructive Sleep Apnea in COPD

COPD sleep apnea CPAP machine
The WatchPAT device was able to accurately detect comorbid obstructive sleep apnea in patients with COPD.

The WatchPAT device, which has been validated to detect obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), was able to accurately detect comorbid OSA in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to the results of a study published in COPD.

Results from pulmonary function testing and simultaneous in-laboratory polysomnography (PSG) and WatchPAT diagnostic recordings from patients with established COPD were evaluated to determine the presence of comorbid OSA. The WatchPAT is a home sleep apnea testing device that is worn around the wrist with 1 finger probe and a separate snoring sensor. The diagnostic results were then compared between polysomnography and WatchPAT.

Of the 36 study patients, validated data was available for 33 of them. When diagnostic markers for OSA were evaluated, there was no significant difference in the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) between PSG and WatchPAT. In addition, AHI was not significantly different in rapid eye movement (REM) and non-REM sleep as determined by PSG vs WatchPAT. However, WatchPAT slightly overestimated the total and REM sleep time, as well as sleep efficiency compared with PSG.

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“These findings support that WatchPAT may be used to detect OSA accurately in patients with COPD,” the investigators wrote. “Given the relatively high prevalence of [overlap syndrome] observed in this study and others, growing literature regarding the importance of [overlap syndrome], and previously limited options for diagnosis, further efforts should be undertaken to optimize the diagnostic approach to OSA amongst patients with COPD.”

Disclosure: One study author declared an affiliation with the company that makes WatchPAT. Please see the original reference for a full list of authors’ disclosures.


Jen R, Orr JE, Li Y, et al. Accuracy of WatchPAT for the diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease [published January 22, 2020]. COPD. doi:10.1080/15412555.2019.1707789