Sleep apnea is one of the most prevalent sleep issues people face around the world, with an estimated 18 million adults suffering from the disorder in America alone. Sleep apnea causes individuals to periodically and briefly stop breathing during sleep, causing a host of health issues including snoring, poor sleep quality and increased risk of serious complications like high blood pressure, heart attack, heart failure, stroke, obesity, and diabetes. There are a number of lifestyle choices individuals can make to alleviate the symptoms of sleep apnea, but one of the most common treatments is the use of a CPAP machine, a device which produces a continuous flow of air into the airways. Despite being effective, many sleep apnea sufferers find CPAP machines to be uncomfortable, intrusive, and loud. Luckily, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has just approved a new unobtrusive implant for autonomously treating sleep apnea. 

THe FDA issued a press release announcing the approval of the tiny device known as The Remedē System, developed and patented by Respicardia Inc. The implant is inserted through a short surgical procedure and consists of two parts: a small battery pack, and a series of tiny wires which connect to blood vessels in the chest near the phrenic nerve, which the brain uses to send signals to the diaphragm to stimulate breathing. The implant monitors the respiratory signals sent down the phrenic nerve during sleep and can stimulate the nerve into moving the diaphragm if abnormal breathing is detected.

In a test of 141 patients, the FDA found that The Remedē System reduced the frequency and severity of apnea episodes by 50 percent or more in 51 percent of patients. For individuals who find that a CPAP machine just isn’t for them, this tiny new implant could help them turn the page on nights filled with restless, interrupted sleep and discover what they’ve been missing: a good night’s sleep.

Brett Tingley

Brett Tingley is a writer and musician from the mountains of Western North Carolina. Contact him at [email protected]

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