Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a serious medical condition affecting over 22 million Americans. Sleep apnea occurs when individuals stop breathing for short periods of time while asleep. As the name implies, this type of apnea occurs because there is some sort of structural obstruction closing off the airways during sleep, temporarily cutting off oxygen to the brain which then arouses the body and triggers the disruptive gasping that often follows these apnea episodes.
Although brief, the frequent lack of oxygen and disruption of sleep makes the heart work harder and over time can lead to several serious health conditions including early heart failure, high blood pressure, an increased risk for strokes and various other heart conditions.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea is also known to contribute to daytime fatigue, mental fogginess, morning headaches, decreased work function, and depression.
Many people are unaware they have sleep apnea until a bed partner complains that they snore heavily and notices they stop breathing for a time then gasp for air while sleeping. Most individuals sleep through these episodes but some report restless, interrupted sleep and feeling unrested in the morning.
Most importantly, they cannot get the restorative sleep that their bodies and minds need because of the frequent disruptions in their breathing.
Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by conditions that create a structural obstruction to the airway while sleeping. For example, obesity can lead to extra tissue and weight around the neck which then compresses the airway when an individual is laying on his/her back.
Treatment options for Obstructive Sleep Apnea have greatly improved over the past decades. The goal of treating obstructive sleep apnea is to keep the airways open during sleep.
For some this means removing whatever is causing the blockage to the airways. For those who have excess tissue around their necks from being overweight, weight loss is the foundation of treatment. For those who smoke or drink excessively, avoiding these habits is key. For those who have enlarged tonsils or other obstructing tissue growths that are blocking the airway, surgery may be the answer.
For most individuals, special medical devices are needed to help treat sleep apnea. These medical devices aim to keep the airways open while an individual is asleep.
Airway pressure devices such as the CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) and BiPAP (Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure) machines have been the gold standard for effectively treating moderate to severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea for decades. They work by delivering air pressure greater than the surrounding air through a mask you wear while sleeping. The greater air pressure keeps the airway open and helps the body and mind get the oxygen it needs to have a restorative sleep.
Oral appliances – these include retainer like mouthguards that keep the tongue and tissues of the throat from falling back and blocking the airway while sleeping. While convenient and often well tolerated, these are only effective for mild to moderate cases of sleep apnea.
Implantable devices – such as Inspire Therapy which work by inserting a small device under the skin, usually near the neck and chest, to provide stimulation to surrounding nerves and muscles that keep the airways open. These devices are effective for moderate to severe cases of sleep apnea.
Inspire is a new, safe and effective therapy for Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Approved by the FDA in 2014, it has revolutionized the way we think about OSA treatment. It is the only FDA approved therapy for Obstructive Sleep Apnea that works from inside the body to keep the airways open.
There are no clunky compressors, cumbersome hoses, or claustrophobic masks. Just uninterrupted peaceful, restorative sleep.
With just a click of a button, Inspire Therapy directly affects the airways and keeps them open while you sleep.
Inspire safely and effectively treats the root cause of Obstructive Sleep Apnea by applying gentle stimulation to the muscles that keep the airways open during sleep. This gentle stimulation works with your natural breathing process. It is barely noticeable and not painful. It allows you to breathe naturally, without interruption, without uncomfortable masks, and without cumbersome hoses and machines.
When you are ready for sleep, simply activate the Inspire device with a click of a button on the small handheld remote and your body will get the oxygen and restorative rest it needs for overall health and wellbeing.
Implanting the Inspire device is simple and requires only a short, outpatient procedure. Anesthesia is used to make you comfortable and relaxed. The procedure itself is typically only two hours long.
During the procedure, two small incisions are made in the chest and one just below the chin. Once the procedure is complete, most patients return home within a few hours and can resume normal daily activities within a few days. Strenuous activities may be resumed in a couple of weeks.
After the procedure, the Inspire device is ready for work. Simply click the button on the remote and you will get the restful sleep you (and your bed partner) have been dreaming of!
Yes, most insurances will cover Inspire Therapy, however, the amount covered will depend on the specifics of your insurance plan and whether a deductible needs to be fulfilled. In general, it is well covered by Medicare and select Veterans affairs and military programs.
Prior to an Inspire consultation, you will need to have a sleep study that documents the presence and degree of obstructive sleep apnea. You will also need to have tried and for some reason cannot continue with CPAP and/or other first-line treatments.
In addition to discussing your sleep study results, you can expect to discuss your issues with sleeping and any symptoms of sleep apnea you may struggle with. We will also need to discuss the reasons why other treatments have not worked for you whether they were ineffective, or you could not tolerate masks or other aspects of the therapy.