New Treatment for those with Sleep Apnea

A new treatment now in the experimental stages may offer a more comfortable alternative for those who have sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a condition that affects over 12 million Americans, and is caused by a tissue blockage in the airway, which when the airway constricts during sleep, causes a lack of air. Left untreated, sleep apnea can increase the likelihood of developing high blood pressure, and of heart attach and stroke.

One of the problems with the current treatment continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) using a breathing machine is low adherence rate. "Current treatment options ... are often intrusive or invasive and not well-tolerated, leaving a vast number of patients untreated," says researcher Harmut Schneider, MD, of Johns Hopkins Asthma and Allergy Center, "Improved therapeutic strategies are required to treat sleep apneas."

The new treatment, involves using a small, flexible tube with small prongs, which is then inserted in the nostrils and delivers warm, humidified air. A small study with just eleven patients was done with the device and published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

The participants wore the devises during sleeping, and the study showed that the nasal cannula treatment reduced the average number of disordered-breathing events from 28 to 10 per hour, and reduced the average number of sleep arousals from 18 to two per hour.


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