New Implantable Device Replaces CPAP for Sleep Apnea

Photo: The Inspire device is activated by a handheld remote to deliver mild stimulation to key airway muscles.

A new treatment option for obstructive sleep apnea for patients who cannot use Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) therapy is available at Abrazo Arrowhead Campus.

The Inspire Upper Airway Stimulation (UAS) therapy is an implantable system includes a small generator, a sensing lead and a stimulation lead. Turned on by a handheld remote, it delivers mild stimulation to key airway muscles, which keeps the airway open during sleep.

Inspire therapy is an implantable system includes a small generator, a sensing lead and a stimulation lead. The device helps keep the airway open during sleep.

Sleep apnea can exacerbate heart conditions like arrhythmia and congestive heart failure – treatable conditions that can contribute to a higher risk for severe COVID-19 illness. Typically performed as a “medical necessary” outpatient procedure, the therapy works from inside the body and with the patient’s natural breathing process.
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“Many with sleep apnea don’t even know they have a problem,” said Dr. Richard Pearlstein, who performs the procedure at Abrazo Arrowhead Campus. “A lot of heart disease is exacerbated by untreated sleep apnea. For those who do use a CPAP, many stop using it after a couple of years. This is a great technology for those who can’t tolerate a CPAP mask.”
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“This new therapy represents a significant advance in sleep apnea treatment. It is clinically proven to reduce sleep apnea events and also has a high level of patient satisfaction and therapy adherence,” said Dr. Pearlstein.

Patients may experience some pain and swelling at incision sites but should be able to return to nonstrenuous activities after a few days. Approximately one month after implantation, patients return to their doctor’s office where personalized stimulation settings are established and patients are trained to use the handheld sleep remote.

  • More than 18 million Americans have sleep apnea.
  • Obstructive sleep apnea – the most common type – can be a potentially life-threatening condition.
  • Research shows that people with poorly managed sleep apnea are at increased risk for heart attack, stroke, weight gain, high blood pressure and heart failure.
  • While CPAP is often successful, studies show that roughly half of all patients who start CPAP eventually become non-compliant.

Common signs of sleep apnea:

  • Reduced or absent breathing, known as apnea events
  • Frequent loud snoring
  • Gasping for air during sleep

Common symptoms of sleep apnea*:

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness and fatigue
  • Decreases in attention, vigilance, concentration, motor skills, and verbal and visuospatial memory
  • Dry mouth or headaches when waking
  • Sexual dysfunction or decreased libido
  • Waking up often during the night to urinate

*Sleep apnea symptoms may be different for women compared with men. Women who have sleep apnea more often report headache, fatigue, depression, anxiety, insomnia and sleep disruption.
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