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Sleep Apnea

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Daniel McKee was diagnosed with sleep apnea several years ago. "I complained to my doctor of daytime tiredness, I was just extremely exhausted throughout the day."

Patients with the condition have their upper airway close during sleep, so they have dangerous pauses in breathing, Daniel tried devices for the mouth and the CPAP mask, which blows constant pressure to keep the airway from closing. "I would wake up in the middle of the night, and couldn't tolerate it any longer."

So he enrolled in a study at Medical College of Wisconsin to test a new device called Inspire. It's a pacemaker like generator that's placed in the chest along with two wires. When activated, the system senses breathing patterns. "We actually stimulate one of the nerves that goes to the upper airway by an implantable device, and this helps hold the airway open during sleep," says Dr. B. Tucker Woodson.

Patients use a remote to turn the system on and off when they wake up. The FDA has now approved the device for patients with moderate to severe sleep apnea who are not able to use the traditional mask. Doctors say getting sleep apnea under control is key because it's linked to a number of health issues. "High blood pressure, increased risk of stroke, and a number of other problems."

Daniel says he's getting a good night's rest thanks to the new technology. "I sleep better at night, I wake up more refreshed. I don't snore anymore."

It's estimated that about 18 million Americans suffer with sleep apnea.
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