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No bulky mask in new sleep apnea treatment

August 9, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Sleep apnea is a condition that not only disrupts sleep, it can lead to high blood pressure, heart attacks, and even stroke if left untreated.

Most people think treating sleep apnea means wearing a bulky sleep mask to bed. But there's a new option offering relief.

Joyce Nemoga is up and at 'em - starting her day with a brisk walk and a little gardening. But Nemoga didn't always have this much energy.

"I would wake up groggy. It would take me an hour or something to wake up," said Nemoga.

And she wasn't the only one suffering.

"My husband started complaining that I was snoring," she said.

Doctors diagnosed Nemoga with sleep apnea. Like most patients, she was told to wear a CPAP mask to bed every night. The problem? It was bulky.

"I couldn't really handle it. It's too much," Nemoga said.

She isn't alone. More than half of all patients stop CPAP treatment because they find it cumbersome. This can put them at risk for several dangerous diseases.

Dr. Amit Patel had a different option for Nemoga. It's called Provent Sleep Apnea therapy. It attaches right over the patient's nostrils.

"This device takes advantage of the fact that 92 percent or more of people automatically breathe through their nose when they fall asleep," said Patel.

In sleep apnea, muscles in the throat relax and cause the airway to collapse. As a result, patients can stop breathing periodically.

With the Provent device, valves inside open during inhalation and close when the patient exhales. This increases the pressure and may help keep the airway open.

Study results show 72 percent of patients had more than a 50 percent reduction in AHI, which is the number of times per hour they stopped breathing at night.

Snoring was reduced by 65 percent. And more than 88 percent of patients reported wearing the device all night.

There is no mask, tubes or machines - just two small adhesives that Nemoga puts on each night. She says it's made a huge difference and she can enjoy more time with her husband during the day and at night.

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