Specialty: Pulmonary Disease
Hospital: HealthAlliance Hospital: Mary’s Avenue Campus; Northern Dutchess Hospital
Medical Group: Medical Associates of the Hudson Valley
Special Expertise: Sleep Disorders/Apnea, Asthma, Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (COPD), Insomnia, pulmonary fibrosis
Trained as a pulmonologist, Barbara Chatr-Aryamontri, MD chose to specialize in sleep medicine once she realized the extent to which breathing and respiratory problems contribute to issues like sleep apnea. Treating sleep disorders can bring about dramatic change, says Dr. Chatr-Aryamontri. “Before treatment, patients can be grouchy and rude; afterward, they’re smiling and pleasant.” It can be especially beneficial for couples. In fact, she’s even sent her own husband — another top doctor — to the sleep lab where she serves as medical director.
What attracted you to sleep disorders?
The link between pulmonology and sleep medicine is that many sleep conditions involve breathing disorders and respiratory problems, like obstructive sleep apnea. I see many patients who don’t have trouble sleeping themselves — they’re sleeping through their snoring, but it’s keeping their spouse awake. Sometimes they’ve been kicked out of the bedroom and realize that getting treatment is the only way back in.
Which sleep innovation excites you?
One promising breakthrough for sleep apnea, an alternative to the CPAP machine, is genioglossus stimulation: an FDA-approved pacemaker that stimulates neck muscles so they contract and keep the airway open at night.
What sleep myths do you have to correct?
I’m often surprised about the perception of sleep in this culture. I have people who come to me and say, ‘I’m so tired!’ But when they tell me they average five or six hours per night, they’re surprised to hear they’re not sleeping enough.
Can you share a patient success story?
A woman with narcolepsy noticed her performance at work was suffering; she felt drowsy all the time but didn’t know why. We made the diagnosis, she was treated, and she went on to run the New York City marathon!