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Living with Obstructive Sleep Apnea: The Search for a Good Night’s Sleep
Mon. Sep 12, 2011 01:13 PM

More than 18 million Americans are significantly impaired by the consequences of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) – it is more prevalent than diabetes and asthma. Patients with OSA often stop breathing during the night while they sleep, often for 30 seconds or longer. This condition can cause daytime sleepiness, depression and weight gain. This causes more problems for patients including an increase in industrial accidents and a diminished quality of life. Furthermore, people with sleep apnea are at higher risk of developing hypertension, heart disease and stroke. All these factors highlight a growing need for new treatment options for patients suffering from OSA.

Current treatment options for OSA today include today’s current standard of care, CPAP, or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, and surgical treatments. CPAP requires patients to wear a ventilation mask when they sleep. While it can be very effective, several studies have demonstrated roughly half of all patients that start on CPAP eventually become non-compliant and don’t wear the mask regularly. While surgery can also be effective, most surgical options involve removing tissue and/or permanently altering patient anatomy which can cause post-operative pain and long recovery times.

SleepMedicine Associates of Texas, specializing in caring for patients with sleep disorders, has been selected to be part of an exciting new clinical trial.  This investigational, minimally invasive implantable therapy uses neurostimulation to offer patients a way to permanently address OSA without altering the anatomy. Called Inspire Upper Airway Stimulation (UAS) therapy, it works with the body’s physiology to prevent airway obstruction during sleep. 

Here’s how it works: Many people suffering from OSA experience decreased muscle tone in their airway during sleep. When this occurs, the tongue and other soft tissues can relax, obstruct the airway, and cause apnea events. Inspire therapy is designed to deliver mild stimulation to the hypoglossal nerve on each breathing cycle while the OSA patient sleeps. This stimulation helps to stabilize the airway during sleep. Patients control when the therapy is turned on and off via a handheld programmer. While Inspire therapy does require a surgical procedure, in contrast to other surgical options to treat sleep apnea, Inspire therapy does not require removing or permanently altering an OSA patient’s facial or airway anatomy. As such, the procedure is less invasive and may result in a shorter recovery time.

Sleep Medicine Associates is currently looking for patients who have sleep apnea to participate in the trial. To be eligible for screening and inclusion in the STAR trial, patients must:

  • Have been unable to receive consistent benefit from CPAP therapy
  • Have moderate to severe sleep apnea
  • Have a body mass index of less than 32

Patients living with the effects of OSA who are interested in Inspire therapy may visit or call1-888-846-8352.

About the Author
Dr. Jamieson is Chairman of the Board and founding partner of Sleep Medicine Associates of Texas. Since 1988, he has been the Clinical Director for The Sleep Medicine Institute at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas and is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.


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