In a technology appraisal issued this week, NICE said patients with moderate or severe sleep apnoea can now be considered for CPAP.
Those with mild sleep apnoea may also be eligible, if their symptoms affect their quality of life and other treatments have failed.
Dr Gillian Leng, NICE deputy chief executive who led the appraisal, said: 'This guidance will ensure that people with this condition, wherever they live in England and Wales, will be able to access treatment that has the potential to improve their quality of life, as well as reduce the number of road traffic accidents caused by excessive sleepiness.'
Dr Steve Holmes, a GP in Somerset and a member of the General Practice Airways Group, said: 'I hope that this will encourage PCTs to make the treatment available.'
Training resources to improve awareness and detection of obstructive sleep apnoea are also needed, added Dr Holmes.
'We should be looking for the trigger factors and then refer to the appropriate specialist.'
Approximately one in 25 middle-aged men and one in 50 middle-aged women are believed to have the condition.
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