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Research Underway to Give Sleep Apnea Sufferers Relief and Rest E-mail
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A researcher at Temple University School of Medicine has been studying  an experimental device to treat positional sleep apnea. The device  is worn around the chest area like a belt, with a device on the back, which is a firm, foam material wrapped in canvas to keep them from moving on their backs.

For some, a full night's rest can be anything but restful. That's because they have sleep apnea, which causes them to struggle for breath in bouts throughout the night. Six percent of the population is affected by the condition-but many don't even know they have it.

"They don't make the connection between the fact that they snore loudly at night and they complain about being tired during the day," says Samuel Krachman, D.O. , professor of medicine and director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Temple University School of Medicine and Hospital. "They think that they're just tired, not getting enough sleep or just working too hard. But in reality, it's related to the sleep apnea."

Krachman is leading research on an experimental device to help patients who suffer from positional sleep apnea. Positional sleep apnea refers to patients who have episodes where they stop breathing when they're on their back, but when they are on their side, the abnormal breathing resolves. Fifty percent of patients with mild sleep apnea (those who experience anywhere from five to 15 events an hour) and 20 percent of people with moderate sleep apnea (15 to 30 events an hour) have positional sleep apnea. Krachman explains how wearing the device, called Zzoma, works to reduce those episodes.

"Zzoma is a device which is worn around the chest area like a belt, with a device on the back, which is a firm, foam material wrapped in canvas to keep them from moving on their backs. Over the last year, we've been studying its use in treating patients with mild to moderate positional sleep apnea."

The device was created by former Temple Fellow Joseph G. Crocetti. He and Krachman have worked together to treat positional sleep apnea. Their research has shown that the Zzoma device is less obtrusive and easier to use than the leading alternative, a continuous positive airway pressure machine or CPAP, a mask that blows air on a person's face to keep the airway open.

"Although CPAP is very effective, the best studies have shown it's only used correctly 50 percent of the time," says Krachman. "That leaves many diagnosed with sleep apnea but not treated."

Untreated sleep apnea can lead to a host of other medical problems. Just having sleep apnea is an independent risk factor for developing high blood pressure, coronary disease and heart failure. That's why Krachman hopes the FDA approves Zzoma to treat positional sleep apnea, to give sufferers an effective alternative to the burden of CPAP.

About Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a common sleeping disorder in which you have one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep. These breathing pauses can last anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes. These breathing pauses often occur 5 to 30 times or more an hour.  Typically for people inflicted with sleep apnea , normal breathing then starts again, sometimes with a loud snort or choking sound.

Sleep apnea often goes undiagnosed. Doctors usually can't detect the condition during routine office visits. Also, there are no blood tests for the condition. Most people who have sleep apnea don't know they have it because it only occurs during sleep. A family member and/or bed partner may first notice the signs of sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea usually is a chronic (ongoing) condition that disrupts your sleep 3 or more nights each week. You often move out of deep sleep and into light sleep when your breathing pauses or becomes shallow.

This results in poor sleep quality that makes you tired during the day. Sleep apnea is one of the leading causes of excessive daytime sleepiness.

Untreated sleep apnea can:

  • Increase the risk for high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, diabetes and obesity
  • Increase the risk for or worsen heart failure
  • Make irregular heartbeats more likely
  • Increase the chance of having work-related or driving accidents

Lifestyle changes, mouthpieces, surgery, and/or breathing devices can successfully treat sleep apnea in many people.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea. This most often means that the airway has collapsed or is blocked during sleep. The blockage may cause shallow breathing or breathing pauses. When you try to breathe, any air that squeezes past the blockage can cause loud snoring. Obstructive sleep apnea happens more often in people who are overweight, but it can affect anyone.

Central Sleep Apnea

Central sleep apnea is a less common type of sleep apnea. It happens when the area of your brain that controls your breathing doesn't send the correct signals to your breathing muscles. You make no effort to breathe for brief periods. Central sleep apnea often occurs with obstructive sleep apnea, but it can occur alone. Snoring doesn't typically happen with central sleep apnea.

 

 

 
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