Product offers hope for those with OSA

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A new device that gives mild electronic stimulation therapy to the upper airway during sleep is effective in reducing obstructive sleep apnea, according to new research.

The Inspire™ Upper Airway Stimulation is an implantable device the size of a pacemaker that delivers stimulation to the hypoglossal nerve with each breathing cycle. This prevents the tongue from collapsing and obstructing the airway during sleep, investigators said.

“This device is a first-of-its-kind therapy and has the potential to help the many people suffering from moderate to severe sleep apnea who are unable to use or cannot tolerate CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure),” said Kingman Strohl, M.D., senior author of the study and pulmonologist at University Hospitals Case Medical Center and Professor of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.

The Phase III safety study of the device was conducted at various clinical sites in the United States and Europe with 126 participants, 83% of whom were men. Two-thirds benefited from the treatment, researchers said. 

Around 18 million people in the U.S. have OSA, which involves airway collapse during sleep, causing a stop to breathing. Risks increase as a person ages, and the symptoms of the disease, such as depression, confusion and lack of attention, can be diagnosed as dementia. The sleep apnea market is expected to hit $7 billion by 2017, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Inspire is based in Minneapolis.

The treatment is available in Europe, and under review by the U.S. FDA. Results of the trial were published Jan. 9 in the New England Journal of Medicine.


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