SALEM, Va.LewisGale Medical Center is the first hospital in Southwest Virginia to offer a new breakthrough obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) treatment option for those who cannot use continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy.

OSA affects 22 million Americans. When left untreated, OSA can cause vehicle and workplace accidents, worsening mood and memory, stroke, heart attack, and even death. It occurs when the airway collapses during sleep and blocks the flow of oxygen to the brain. The brain senses a lack of oxygen and wakes the body up just long enough to take a breath, then falls back asleep. This cycle repeats throughout the night and causes poor, disruptive sleep.

The technology, called Inspire, works inside the body with a patient’s natural breathing process to treat sleep apnea. Mild stimulation opens the airway during sleep, allowing oxygen to flow naturally. The patient uses a small handheld remote to turn the device on before bed and off when they wake up.

“Patients who have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea and are intolerant of, or unable to get consistent benefit from, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment may benefit from this novel treatment option,” said Dr. Brian Gross, board certified otolaryngologist with LewisGale Physicians who now offers this treatment option to qualifying patients. 

A five-year clinical trial (STAR trial) showed that patients using the device experienced significant reductions in sleep apnea events and numerous improvements in quality of life measures. As of May 2020, there have been over 100 peer-reviewed publications on the device, which show results consistent with those seen in the STAR trial.

Common signs and symptoms of sleep apnea include loud snoring, episodes in which you stop breathing during sleep, gasping for air during sleep, awakening with a dry mouth, morning headache, difficulty staying asleep, excessive daytime sleepiness, difficulty paying attention while awake, and irritability.

“If you or a family member has several of these symptoms, we recommend that you see your primary care provider to determine if a sleep study evaluation is in order,” said Gross. “This new technology provides additional treatment options for patients needing an alternative to CPAP.”

To schedule an appointment for the diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea, call (540) 444-8100.