A University of Maryland Pulmonologist and Sleep Specialist Directs Multidisciplinary Team
Learn more about common sleep disorders, treatment options, our physicians, tips to get a good night's sleep and much more by visiting the University of Maryland Sleep Disorders Center's consumer Web site.
An innovative, full-service sleep disorders program has opened in Baltimore, called the University of Maryland Sleep Disorders Center. It provides comprehensive diagnosis and treatment by a multidisciplinary team of specialists and a new state-of-the-art sleep laboratory.
The laboratory is located at University Specialty Hospital, near Baltimore's Inner Harbor, and is designed to conduct overnight and daytime sleep studies to help diagnose a wide range of disorders, from insomnia and sleep apnea to snoring, narcolepsy, night terrors, and sleepwalking. The treatment team includes University of Maryland doctors with expertise in sleep disorders medicine, pulmonology, otolaryngology, cardiology, psychology, psychiatry, neurology and dentistry.
"There are over 80 different types of sleep disorders. Accurate diagnosis is the key to effective treatment, because patients frequently have a mix of sleep problems," says Steven M. Scharf, M.D., Ph.D., medical director of the center. "Sleep problems may also be symptomatic of other health issues, and can impact a patient's life in many ways, including job performance and relations with a spouse. That's why we've developed a comprehensive treatment program that can make sure all the needs of our patients are met."
Dr. Scharf is a pulmonary and critical care physician and board-certified sleep specialist at the University of Maryland Medical Center, who will join the faculty of the University of Maryland School of Medicine as professor of medicine. He came to Baltimore in May from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.
"We are very fortunate to have recruited someone of Dr. Scharf's ability and reputation in the treatment of sleep disorders," says Jeffrey D. Hasday, M.D., head of the University of Maryland Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine and professor of medicine and pathology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. "Dr. Scharf is uniquely qualified to help us fulfill our missions to expand clinical and basic research in sleep disorders and enhance medical education."
The National Sleep Foundation estimates that 40 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders, with symptoms ranging from mild nuisances to life-threatening complications. Despite the prevalence of sleep-related problems, more than 60 percent of adults say a physician has never asked them about the quality of their sleep.
Six out of every 10 adults say they have sleep problems a few nights a week or more. Daytime sleepiness is severe enough in four out of 10 adults to interfere with their daily activities at least a few days each month, and for 20 percent of adults, that interference occurs a few days a week or more.
The consequences can be destructive, even deadly. The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that drowsiness and fatigue are the major causes of about 100,000 police-reported crashes each year, killing 1,500 people and injuring 71,000.
"One of our goals is to increase awareness of sleep disorders and to demonstrate that they are treatable," says Dr. Scharf. "We have designed our center to be a referral resource for primary care physicians, not only for relatively straightforward conditions such as sleep apnea, but also for more complicated sleep disorders as well."
Initially, a sleep specialist consults with each patient to determine the nature of the underlying disorders and what additional testing, such as a sleep study, is indicated. Then, depending on the results of the studies, other specialists are brought in as needed to develop a treatment plan.
For example, an airway blockage may lead to obstructive sleep apnea, a common condition which causes a person to stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times during the night and often for a minute or longer. The airway can be opened and the blockage corrected through several treatment options available to physicians.
But sleep apnea itself may cause high blood pressure and other cardiovascular diseases, memory problems, weight gain and headaches. Treatment may involve input from a cardiologist, a neurologist, a psychiatrist or psychologist, an ear, nose and throat specialist, or a dentist.
The University of Maryland Sleep Disorders Center is partnering with Sleep Services of America (SSA), based in Arnold, Maryland, to operate the sleep laboratory. SSA provides skilled technicians and equipment to conduct the sleep studies, and record video, audio and computer-based digital data collected during each session. Patients sleep in comfortable, hotel-like bedrooms, which are connected by wires to a central control room, where respiration, heartbeat, brain wave activity, eye movements and even the sounds of snoring are recorded and then analyzed.
Lawrence G. Seiden, M.D., is the associate director of the center. He is a neurologist at the University of Maryland Medical Center, and an assistant professor of neurology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
For more information about the University of Maryland Sleep Disorders Center, call 800-492-5538, or visit our Web site at www.umm.edu/sleep.
For patient inquiries, call 1-800-492-5538 or click here to make an appointment.