Overnight Pulse Oximetry?

Yes, I know CC is not the place for medical advice, but I’m just wondering if anyone here had ever had this test done or might be familiar with interpreting results. I will be seeing a cardiologist soon to discuss.

I have had a few SVT events with the last being a couple of weeks ago after three years of no problems. So a cardiologist ordered a slew of tests all which came back normal except for the overnight pulse oximetry. The office called today and said I had over 300 events of oxygen levels below 90% and one for 34 minutes at 81%. Or it may have been that 81% was the lowest, and the 34 minutes was the total of all 300+ events. I called to get the results sent to me, but I haven’t got a hard copy yet.

The nurse that called me with the results said the doc recommended I go on oxygen at night! That seemed strange bc I’m not decrepit or anything and I am in fairly good shape. I am overweight by about 15-20 lbs and have had apnea episodes that I have noticed in the past few months. I have lost about 7 lbs recently though and thought that the apnea was less frequent - I haven’t woken up with a start lately. Apparently, it’s not or there is another problem. I do take a very very low dose of a med that can depress respiration. It’s so low that it’s probably a placebo.

I am moving to another state for a year long job assignment in two days! That’s why I’m reaching out to get some info on my results, as I’ll not be able to speak to a cardiologist for another week or so at least.

No medical advice, just observations from my family. My H had the testing & had many events. He is now on a CPAP at night. He is in great health & is not overweight. He just needs assistance to keep from stopping breathing at night. It wasn’t anything obvious - I didn’t notice anything. However, the oxygen helps (it’s all online, so he gets a daily report). In the long run, not getting adequate oxygen is difficult on the heart. My MIL wore down her pacemaker battery really quickly because it kept kicking in when she had a breathing event at night - and being on a CPAP has fixed that. She snored like crazy, but H isn’t a big snorer.


Thanks! Good to know. So is the CPAP a combo of the mask and oxygen? I just thought a CPAP used regular air. Even then, when you don’t stop breathing you get more oxygen! I’m just trying to figure out what my cardiologist had in mind. The nurse said I needed oxygen and didn’t mention a CPAP.

Don’t panic! They’ll probably want to try a CPAP machine (I’m guessing)which a million people use. Sleep apnea can be caused by being overweight, throat constriction, dental reasons, bunches of reasons.
But not getting enough oxygen will cause a lot of sleepness nights, snoring, being tired all day etc. And it can be hard on your heart. It is not a slam to your physical fitness (but that 15 lbs might be the difference but you don’t know until you lose it). Relax.


I have no clue how it works! The machine does its thing, which I just assume is giving him filtered air. He had a mask at first, but he now has something that’s more just a nose thing. The biggest pain is keeping it clean, but he takes care of that.

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I wouldn’t worry yet about what the nurse said. Wait until you talk to the cardiologist to clarify

But you might need to do a sleep study.

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Yes, probably. I feel all tested out though!

I probably wouldn’t have been worried if the nurse hadn’t been ready to sign me up for oxygen! I told her I was leaving in two days, and she just said OK, then… Not real helpful.

That combined with my ER SVT event a couple of weeks ago and trying to deal with a move halfway across the country has me much more stressed than normal.

I reread your original post. Maybe the doctor wants you to go on oxygen until you can get the rest of your issues straightened out. Maybe as a stop gap? It sounds like there is quite an issue with your oxygen levels dropping.

But yea, definitely try and get clarity on what she told you. And the reason why


I’d guess a CPAP machine (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure). It’s not supplemental oxygen (like needing an oxygen tank which is whole different scenario). It’s a machine which gives positive pressure to gently force air into your airway. So when you aren’t inhaling (apnea) you still get some air sent your way. And there are a million variations on a theme (masks etc) so it is fitted for what you are comfortable with. Don’t worry about moving! You’ll be fine.

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So is the SVT related to the low O2, because the low O2 is making the heart work harder? Or do you tend to have palpitations or tachycardia when under a stress like moving?

I don’t know much about CPAP but it sounds like you are going to need more testing-?

My finger oximeter is often too low because my finger is cold or some other factor. But it sounds like this oximetry was assumed to be accurate.

Do you have a doctor set up where you are going? I hope this isn’t a wild goose chase and can be resolved as quickly as possible. Maybe they will start a CPAP to see if it improves things.

So sorry you are going through this at a difficult time!

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Honestly I don’t know. It’s like pulling teeth to be able to talk to the cardiologist that I’ve been seeing about the several tests he’s ordered for me.

The pulse ox was fine with measurements in the high 90’s while I was awake, so I think it was accurate.

M going to try to schedule an appt soon, but it’s not a good look to start a job asking for time off. I’ve already had to ask for a day off to attend my daughter’s college graduation at the end of May (yay for my Mawrter!)

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Do you have a patient portal with more info than doctor is giving you?

Tough situation with the move, new job, and possible need for appointments.

(I have a different medical situation going on but completely empathize with the “pulling teeth.”)

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Have patient portal, but no information other than basic information.

I’ll try to call his office again tomorrow to see if I can get more info.

Thanks for your help and ideas!

Yea for college graduation! Quit your worrying. None of this is hard nor time consuming to figure out. You shouldn’t have to ask for days off for this. In the meantime sleep with a couple pillows to prop you up if it bothers you (tried and true method of easier breathing).

In the meantime if you don’t already own one, you can order your own pulse oximeter from Amazon. Look for a good brand. They are inexpensive. Super easy to use and might give you some peace of mind.


Ok, ok!! Lol.

Thanks for your help!