New treatment for sleep apnea - KMSP-TV

New treatment for sleep apnea

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(WJBK) -

A new study finds that a small pacemaker-like device helps those who suffer from Obstructive Sleep Apnea, the most dangerous form of the condition which causes patients to stop breathing periodically during sleep.

12 million Americans struggle to breathe while sleeping. Leslie McGuire is one of those people.

"Before I was diagnosed, I would wake up probably five or six times a night, sitting on the side of my bed, gasping for air," he tells Fox 2's Deena Centofanti. But now, McGuire says he sleeps all the way through the night after doctors put in a new device that regulates his breathing during sleep.

Dr. William Abraham is a cardiologist at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. He says while we're sleeping, the brain continues to tell the body to breathe.  But in Central Sleep Apnea, that signal is faulty. So, to help those patients, doctors are implanting this pacemaker-like device just under the collar bone and running a wire to the patient's diaphragm. At night that wire signals the diaphragm, prompting patients to breathe.  

Dr. Abraham explains the results. "What we saw were remarkable results - more than a 50 percent reduction in the number of events occurring per hour, and more than a 90 percent reduction specifically in those events related to Central Sleep Apnea."

Doctors say the device is effective because it doesn't require any compliance from the patients. Once it's implanted it works on its own with the occasional doctor check up. Doctors hope to use it to treat patients nationally in the coming months.

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