Air Liquide, together with its subsidiary VitalAire, is launching a new, personalised support program for sleep apnea patients in France, further building on its increasingly global participation in this field.

A little known disorder which can lead to serious complications, sleep apnea affects 1.5 million people in France, and 5% of the world’s adult population.

The standard treatment for sleep apnea is Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP), handled daily and in the patient’s home. Air Liquide is a major global player in this field while in Europe, the group provides services for 15% of all patients - working alongside their doctors.

Air Liquide is further strengthening its international position following recent acquisitions in the Netherlands (Comcare Medical) and Tunisia (Air Separation). The group has just opened its first ‘sleep centre’ in China, dedicated to the global care management of patients suffering from sleep apnea, and is now launching the new programme in its native France.

Nearly 250,000 apneics in France have been treated, though an estimated 20% of new patients are believed to have stopped treatment within the first six months. As a result, ensuring treatment is properly followed is a major public health issue.

Air Liquide conducted a clinical study in 2006 through its subsidiary VitalAire, in cooperation with 194 doctors and 674 patients, with the study reflecting the effectiveness of a phone support program for patients - resulting in a significantly higher adherence to treatment (+8 points) and longer machine usage per night (+35 minutes).

The group therefore, with VitalAire, is launching a new, personalised support program for sleep apnea patients in France. Telephone support by nurses, as well as new educational tools created with the help of medical experts, will be proposed to doctors for their apneic patients, in addition to the traditional follow-up home visits by technicians. The aim is to increase patients’ motivation and compliance to make treatment more successful.

Jean-Marc de Royere, Senior Vice-President in charge of the Healthcare World Business Line and a member of the Air Liquide Executive Committee, declared, “Sleep apnea has become a major public health issue. Air Liquide worked from the start, with the best international specialists, at a comprehensive management of this disorder.”

“The goal is to reach the best quality of life for patients at the lowest cost to the community. Key to achieving this is patient compliance.”

Eight out of 10 sleep apneics are thought to be unaware of their condition. Untreated sleep apnea multiplies by six the risk of road accidents and coronary accidents and it can lead to numerous other disorders (diabetes, metabolic syndrome, depression, behavioural problems).