LOVELAND, Colo. (April 4, 2019) – UCHealth is the first health system in the Rocky Mountain region to offer the latest, implantable treatment option for people with central sleep apnea.
In a recent breakthrough procedure at UCHealth Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland, a man became the first patient in an eight-state region to receive the implantable remede System.
Central sleep apnea is a serious neurological condition in which a person’s sleep is disordered because the brain does not send the correct signals to the breathing muscles during sleep. It can lead to excessive daytime sleepiness, reduced exercise capacity, a decrease in blood oxygen levels, difficulty concentrating and irregular or very fast heart rhythms.
It occurs frequently in high altitudes, but it also is more prevalent among people who have other health conditions such as heart failure and atrial fibrillation, according to Dr. Mark Neagle, a UCHealth sleep medicine specialist.
“Treatment for this particular type of sleep apnea has been a significant challenge over the years. But this new technology is a major step forward that will enable us treat these patients more effectively,” Neagle said.
Dr. Robert Kiser, the UCHealth cardiologist who performed the first procedure at MCR, said the new system will especially benefit central sleep patients with congestive heart failure.
Heart failure is when the heart can’t pump as well as it should. Or the heart muscle can’t relax and fill the pumping chamber with blood. According to the Heart Failure Society of America, the condition affects over 6.5 million people in the United States.
“About a third of patients with heart failure also experience central sleep apnea,” Kiser said. “This technology can treat central sleep apnea effectively, which can lead to a tremendous boost in quality of life.”
The new system, which is implanted by a cardiologist during a minimally invasive procedure, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in late 2017. It includes a small pacemaker-like device that is implanted under the skin in the upper part of the chest area. It includes two thin wires, one that delivers the stimulation to the phrenic nerve to tell the diaphragm to breath and another that senses when the patient breathes. The patient is lightly sedated during the procedure and most patients are able to go home after a one-night stay in the hospital.
About six weeks after the procedure, the patient returns for a followup appointment with a sleep medicine physician to activate the system. Once fully optimized, the system will restore sleep throughout the night by monitoring and stabilizing the patient’s breathing pattern.
The best candidates for the procedure include patients who have moderate to severe central sleep apnea and no known condition that would require magnetic resonance imaging.
In a clinical study, the new system reduced number of sleep apnea events for 87 percent of patients, improved quality of life for 79 percent of patients and significantly improved daytime sleepiness for patients.
The system is the newest addition to the UCHealth Sleep Lab, which offers the latest advancements in sleep medicine technology.
In 2016, UCHealth was the first in Colorado to offer Inspire Sleep therapy, another groundbreaking sleep apnea technology that helps patients with obstructive sleep apnea – which occurs when throat muscles intermittently relax and block the airway during sleep – who can’t tolerate use of continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, while sleeping.
Although the two systems treat different types of sleep apnea, they both involve minimally invasive procedures to implant the devices and a multidisciplinary team of providers working together.
“With the addition of the new system, our program can help even more people and improve their lives,” Neagle said. “We are the only sleep program in the Mountain West that is able to offer patients the full spectrum of solutions depending on their condition – from the Inspire and remede devices to the oral devices and CPAP therapy.”
For more information about treatments offered through the UCHealth Sleep Lab in northern Colorado, call 970.495.8674.
UCHealth offers comprehensive sleep medicine care at locations throughout Colorado, including the UCHealth Sleep Medicine Clinic – Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora and sleep centers in Steamboat Springs, Fort Collins, Loveland, Colorado Springs and Denver.