Apnea Risk Factors

Bigfoot Needs a CPAP

Stern Show “Wack” Packer Needs CPAP

Hey Now. While listening to some Sternthology on the Howard Stern show a few weeks ago I came across one of the shows that highlighted the first time the “Wack Packer” Bigfoot was introduced to the show. He was on a panel of people that were being interviewed for consideration of becoming a member of the “Wack Pack”. A particular part of Bigfoot’s interview caught my ear when he said that he had a sleep test done that showed “I died 53 times a night I did” (in deep Bigfoot voice). That particular line struck me because I have been in the CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) and sleep apnea industry for 15 years and it’s quite common for people to have a complete misunderstanding of what sleep apnea is and what they hear when told “their number”. For Bigfoot, the 53 times he died that night is more than likely the number of times per hour he stopped breathing from airway closure, otherwise known as his AHI (apnea hypopnea index).Sleep Apnea and Snoring

Now I can’t claim to be a “super fan” of the show but I have listened to it religiously since 2010 when I commuted from Cincinnati, Ohio to Lexington, Kentucky to work in our CPAP store, normally a boring 2 hour morning drive that listening to Howard made me wish it took a little bit longer so I could hear the entire show. If you haven’t listed to the show or you have a preconceived notion of what you think the show might be about because you’ve heard things about Howard that you find lewd, I suggest you give it a try because you will not find a better interviewer. Two paragraphs into this blog you might be asking yourself why a CPAP Sleep Therapy company is writing about The Howard Stern Show but if you are a listener of the program and know most of the staff and regular callers you will see how it all comes together.

A couple of times the show has conducted an IQ contest between staff and Wack Packers and it prompted a conversation between me and the head of our marketing department (also a long time fan) about a contest idea of which staffer or caller would have the most severe case of sleep apnea. We even thought about contacting the show and providing home sleep apnea test kits for staff we felt would be good candidates for the contest. This concept never happened so instead of doing the contest I thought I would write in JDini fashion my predictions of the type of apnea and severity of each case based off of what I’ve heard from the show.

Stern Show Sleep Apnea Contest (in no particular order)

These predictions are purely speculative and are for entertainment purposes only.

Gary “Bababooey” Dellabate– Hello Hello, Gary has been roasted time and time again for getting caught sleeping on the job or falling asleep within minutes of getting on an airplane. Gary’s symptoms, particularly if he snores, sound like a mild case of sleep apnea or poor sleep hygiene. Giant teeth haven’t been shown to lead to sleep apnea but an enlarged tongue or uvula can be a factor. His constant throat clearing sounds like he has an obstructed airway. [Insert Sour Shoes Voice] My JDini guess is Gary has an apnea index (AHI) of 9 times per hour.

Artie Lange– While Artie isn’t a part of the show anymore he would have been my guess to have the most severe case of sleep apnea. Not only would Artie’s apnea be severe because of his weight, which would have resulted on obstructive sleep apnea but his reported use of drugs and alcohol would have contributed to another type of sleep apnea which is central sleep apnea. This type of apnea can be caused from use of opiates which numb the neuroreceptors in the brain that stimulate respiratory drive. My JDini guess would be and apnea index (AHI) of 84 times per hour.

John Hein-A connoisseur of fast food, John’s diet is most likely the leading cause or factor of his predicted sleep apnea. When we gain weight we gain it everywhere and an increase in neck size will cause the airway to collapse when the muscles in our throat cannot support the weight.  My JDini guess would be and apnea index (AHI) of 26 times per hour.

Richard Christy– Though Richard did lose a lot of weight he does like his pumpkin beer and plenty of it. Attending Wing Bowls and Beer Fests will put that weight right back on and increase the severity of his predicted sleep apnea. Alcohol is a depressant and relaxes the muscles. After someone consumes alcohol (especially in great amounts) the airway relaxes more than normal when we fall asleep. This will result in snoring from individuals that do not normally snore and will severely increase apnea events in people with heavy snoring. A person that has a mild case of sleep apnea (5 to 15 times per hour) may see an increase of twice as many when inebriated.  My JDini for Richard is 38 times per hour (31 if Sal is spooning with him).

JD Harmeyer- Dirty sheets aside, the Cincinnati native needs to ditch the vending machine diet if he wants to get a better night’s sleep. Being overweight and obesity are the largest contributing factors of people with sleep disordered breathing. If we knew who JD’s girlfriend was maybe we could ask her is he snores or stops breathing in his sleep. My JDini for JD is 29 times per hour (borderline severe).

Benjy Bronk– Bennnn-Geeee. Though Benjy has lost a bunch of weight recently there still might be some lingering snoring or apnea that cannot be found with a Perez Hilton probe. In many cases of people that have sleep apnea the amount of event per hour can be reduced, meaning a person that had severe sleep apnea may reduce to moderate or mild. For people that accomplish this it is recommended that a auto adjusting CPAP be used to accommodate the need for a lower pressure setting. My JDini for Bennn-Geeee is 9 times per hour.

High Pitch Eric and Joey Boots– Being roommates may be out of the question for these two but my guess is that they share the same severe sleep apnea diagnosis. These 2 guys are off the chart when it comes to the BMI chart (body mass index) and both are the best candidates for home sleep testing and Bi-Level therapy (Bi-PAP). An auto adjusting Bi-Level, a device great for people that need such high CPAP pressures that one with 2 settings (inhale and exhale) work better. High Pitch might be able to stay out of the hospital and spend more time on Blue Bloods if he decides to seek treatment. My JDini puts both of these big fellas in the 78 time per hour range.

Bigfoot– He already told us he has an apnea/hypopnea index of 53 he does. However, the bad news for Bigfoot is that diagnosis was a while ago and more than likely his smoking and age have increased that number quite a bit. Among being overweight, there are a number of other signs or symptoms of sleep apnea such as high blood pressure, smoking, age, neck size, enlarged tongue, etc etc. Maybe John Lieberman can revisit Bigfoot’s home and have him do a home sleep testing kit to see what his new number is. I get the sneaky suspicion that Bigfoot would pawn his CPAP machine though. My JDini for Bigfoot is 67 times per hour it is.

Apnea Risk Factors
Sleep Apnea Risks

Though all of these predictions have not been validated and are meant to be fun entertainment they are intended to highlight certain factors and symptoms a person with sleep apnea can exhibit. It is estimated up to 18 million people suffer from sleep apnea and only 20% of these people have been diagnosed. CPAP is the gold standard recommended treatment however only 50% of those people are compliant and use therapy every night.  Our goal is to provide public awareness to this sleep disorder that can lead to stroke, heart failure, hypertension, depression, and even death. Check out more education services including signs and symptoms on our blog or visit our store at www.1800CPAP.com

#sternshow #cpap #sleepapnea #howardstern

Jason Smith, RPSGT

email jsmith@1800cpap.com

About the Author


Jason Smith is recognized by the board of polysomnographic technologists (BRPT) as a registered polysomnographic technologist (RPSGT) since 2003. He is also Director of Clinical Operations for 6 multi-state sleep diagnostic facilities including the nation’s largest 20 bed sleep disorder testing center. Jason has also been a Co-Author with two research publications featured in Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.