Sleep apnea causes the breathing passage to collapse or become blocked during sleep. This causes the person with the sleep apnea to wake up many times a night, causing exhaustion during the day and placing stress on the heart with each time they awaken. Complications with this issue can include heart disease and increased risk for accidents and death.
Now, those with sleep apnea have a new avenue for help. US regulators have approved a first-of-its-kind implant that can help to keep moderate to severe sleep apnea at bay. Called The Inspire Upper Airway Stimulation therapy, it is designed for patients for whom other therapies have not worked.
The device works with a small neurostimulation generator that is surgically put into the chest. It has a lead that stimulates a nerve that goes from the ear to the jaw and another one that goes to the chest. Once its implanted, it can be activated before bedtime with a remote control. It gives a mild shock to a neck nerve that will then keep the air passages open at night.
The device is not yet available but should be available to consumers later this year. Research that was published earlier this year in the New England Journal of Medicine found that it resulted in a 68 percent reduction in apnea events and significant improvements in daytime function.
“This therapy represents a major advance in sleep apnea treatment for some patients,” said Meir Kryger, professor at the Yale School of Medicine.