New CADTH Recommendations Help Make Sense of Sleep Apnea Treatment Options

Spread the word

Published on: May 23, 2017

Result type: News

For as many as one in four Canadians living with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), their nightly ritual involves disturbed and restless sleep that leaves them exhausted during the day and facing a host of serious health problems.

Thankfully, a range of OSA treatment options is available, including lifestyle interventions like diet and exercise, and the use of medical devices or surgical interventions. But determining which option works best for individual patients remains a significant challenge and patient access to the different treatments varies across Canada.

To offer health care providers and policy-makers guidance on treating OSA, CADTH and its Health Technology Expert Review Panel (HTERP) have published new evidence-informed recommendations.


  • For patients with mild OSA who are not overweight or obese: HTERP does not recommend active treatment.
  • For patients with mild OSA who are overweight or obese: HTERP recommends lifestyle interventions.
  • For patients with moderate or severe OSA: HTERP recommends continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). For those same patients for whom CPAP is unacceptable, HTERP recommends the use of oral appliances.
  • HTERP does not recommend surgical maxillomandibular advancement in patients with OSA, unless other interventions have failed or are unacceptable to the patient.

“Sleep apnea robs people of the quality rest that we know is essential to good health,” said Dr. Stirling Bryan, Chair of HTERP and Director of the Centre for Clinical Epidemiology and Evaluation at the Vancouver Coastal Health Research Centre. “This was top of mind for the Panel and we worked hard to give decision-makers recommendations that are guided by the best evidence and will help people living with OSA get the best possible outcomes from their treatment.”

On May 26, 2017 CADTH will host a special event in Ottawa to share the evidence and discuss the OSA recommendations. The session will also be livestreamed online. Featured speakers include:

  • Dr. Sachin R. Pendharkar, Associate Professor of Medicine and Community Health Sciences, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary and a specialist member of HTERP
  • Dr. Brian O’Rourke, President and CEO of CADTH
  • Dr. Joanne Kim, Clinical Research Officer at CADTH.

The recommendations, supporting evidence reports, and an infographic are available online at