Obstructive sleep apnea affects around 20 million Americans and can lead to hypertension, heart attack, stroke, depression, muscle pain, fibromyalgia, morning headaches, and excessive daytime sleepiness.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Medication Upcoming for Sleep Apnea?

The National Institutes of Health have awarded a grant to researchers exploring new avenues for mitigating and preventing sleep apnea. The grant will fund a University of Chicago research team who is developing medication for sleep apnea treatment.

Currently there is no medication available for alleviating sleep apnea symptoms or reducing incidence of the disorder. University of Chicago researchers hope to develop a drug that will block the production of a certain enzyme that contributes to the irregular, stop-and-start breathing rate during sleep that makes the disorder harmful.

Researchers suspect that sleep apnea disrupts cell clusters in the throat called carotid bodies. These cells signal the brain when changes in blood oxygen occur, thus playing a major role in maintaining regular breath.

A drug that halts the overactive response of carotid bodies in sleep apnea patients could reduce or eliminate instances of apnea entirely, the University of Chicago team says.  If medication becomes available, it could improve substantially on one of the major downfalls of current sleep apnea treatment options: patient non-compliance.

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices are the foremost treatment for sleep apnea today. However, patients often find CPAP unworkable due to issues like: 

  • Uncomfortable design
  • Disruption to favored sleeping positions
  • Exacerbation of allergies and sinus issues
  • Unpleasant noise
Oral appliances are a common alternative to CPAP. If the Chicago study returns positive results, medication for managing sleep apnea might one day become another option.

For more information about sleep apnea treatment, please contact a local sleep specialist or call 1 (866) 727-6275 (1-8-NO-PAP-MASK) today.

posted by Admin at 8:03 AM