Second National Sleep Medicine Course (India) to be held Dec. 14-15 in Bangalore; Courses Planned for 2008-2011 Throughout India

Add sleep medicine to the list of fields that are going global.

For the second year, Dr. Anuj Chandra, Director of Chattanooga’s Advanced Center for Sleep Disorders, is one of several U.S. physicians traveling to India to serve as international faculty for a medical training course designed to bring leading edge sleep diagnosis and treatment to India.

The Second National Sleep Medicine Course (India) is a two-day session designed to serve as a comprehensive introduction to sleep medicine for Indian physicians. The Course will be held Dec. 14-15 in Bangalore, India, hosted by the National Institute for Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS).

The Course is an outgrowth of global networking among sleep physicians. The Second Interim World Congress of the World Federation of Sleep Research & Sleep Medicine Societies was held in New Delhi in 2005. Conversations there among Indian-born physicians who have been practicing for many years in the United States and their colleagues in India eventually led to the creation of the National Sleep Medicine Course (India).

The first presentation of the Course, held in New Delhi in 2006, was so successful that organizers have already scheduled five more annual presentations, to be held in 2007-2011 in different regions throughout India: Bangalore (2007), Bhubaneswar (2008), Jalandhar (2009), a city to be announced (2010), and Mumbai (2011).

Sleep Disorders and Serious Medical Conditions

“We know that the prevalence of sleep disorders in India is very similar to what it is in the United States,” said Dr. Anuj Chandra. He is Associate Course Director for clinical sciences and one of several course faculty members practicing in the United States.

According to Dr. Chandra, many people in both India and the United States do not realize that obstructive sleep apnea, a condition that causes people to stop breathing many times each night while they are sleeping, is linked to serious diseases like high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, diabetes, and depression. One reason is that the serious health consequences of sleep disorders tend to show up later in life, similar to the long-term effects of bad diet and sedentary lifestyle.

“India has an enormous opportunity to learn from our experience in the U.S. and avoid making the same mistakes we did,” added Dr. Chandra. “For example, it took years of research and education for shift work sleep disorder to be recognized as a disease state. As India rapidly becomes a 24-hour society, like the U.S. already is, that’s precisely the type of sleep disorder that will increase. Indian physicians can build on our experience and treat those disorders immediately, instead of waiting years to decide whether they are a problem.”

“The National Sleep Medicine Course has begun to increase awareness and knowledge of sleep medicine in India,” said Dr. Chandra. “It’s a great honor to be part of a groundbreaking effort that can make a difference to the health of so many people.”

Sleep Medicine in the United States and India

“In the last 20 years, sleep medicine has really come of age in the United States. Yet sleep disorders remain under-diagnosed in the U.S., and even more so in India,” said Dr. Deepak Shrivastava, Professor of Medicine, University of California Davis School of Medicine and Director of the San Joaquin General Sleep Center. He serves as co-director of the Course, with Dr. H. N. Mallick, Professor in the Department of Physiology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi.

The size of the U.S. sleep medicine market has been estimated at over $100 million for diagnostic devices and over $2 billion for sleep diagnostic related services (Source: Flaga Group, The rapid growth of India’s economy and the size of its middle class — roughly 300 million, or about the size of the entire U.S. population — make it a natural next market for sleep diagnostic services and devices.

“As physicians in India are becoming more aware of sleep disorders, they are looking to the U.S. for the research and treatment protocols that have been developed here over the last 20 years,” said Dr. Shrivastava. “At the same time, American companies making sleep medical devices like CPAP machines are beginning to notice the size of the potential market in India. Greater diagnosis and treatment go hand in hand with a growing commercial market. We hope the Course will foster both types of growth.”

Bringing Sleep Medicine to the Regions of India

“Presenting this Course throughout India is the beginning of a long road ahead to bring to India what has been learned about sleep medicine in the United States,” said Dr. Mallick. “Interest in sleep medicine is very high. The annual Courses we have scheduled for the coming years have already sold out, and we are receiving requests to present the Course twice a year.”

“We are honored to have this important training course come to this region of India,” said Dr. Bindu M. Kutty, Department of Neurophysiology at the National Institute for Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS). “We know there is an epidemic of heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure going on in India. We also know that sleep apnea has a link to all these conditions.”

Course Topics

The Course is intended to provide basic science, technical aspects and clinical science education regarding sleep disorders to the Indian audience. Topics include the physiology and neurology of sleep, neuro-pharmacology, insomnia, sleep disordered breathing, epilepsy, circadian rhythm disorders, cardiovascular complications of sleep apnea, medical disorders and sleep, narcolepsy, sleep evaluation methods, restless leg syndrome, cognitive behavior therapy, pediatric sleep disorders, parasomnias and sleep hygiene.

The course will feature an instructional innovation that has not been included in any other sleep medicine course in either the U.S. or India: observation of a patient undergoing an overnight sleep study, called a polysomnogram. “It’s very difficult to get hands-on exposure to these techniques, but it’s vitally important to do so,” said Dr. Shrivastava.

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