Advances in Treatment of Sleep-Disordered Breathing

Link to article at PubMed

Am J Ther. 2021 Feb 16;28(2):e196-e203. doi: 10.1097/MJT.0000000000001345.


BACKGROUND: Sleep-disordered breathing, composed of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and central sleep apnea (CSA), affects millions of people worldwide carrying with it significant morbidity and mortality. Diagnosis is made by polysomnography, and severity of sleep apnea is determined by the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI). Positive airway pressure (PAP) therapy has been the gold standard in treating both OSA and CSA. PAP therapy can greatly reduce AHI burden as well as morbidity and mortality and improve quality of life.

AREAS OF UNCERTAINTY: However, patients report difficulties adhering to PAP therapy because of discomfort with mask interface, sensation of excessive pressure, and claustrophobia. Although other options exist to treat sleep apnea, such as mandibular advancement oral appliance devices, positional therapy, and surgery, these additional therapeutic modalities as current options have limitations. Emerging technology is now available to overcome hindrances to standard therapy.

DATA SOURCES: A literature search was performed from the following databases: PubMed, Cochrane Library (Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews), and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, and FDA device database (

THERAPEUTIC ADVANCES: Other modalities of treating sleep-disordered breathing now include the hypoglossal nerve stimulator, which stimulates the hypoglossal nerve during sleep to alleviate airflow obstruction by contracting the genioglossus muscle thus treating OSA. Similarly, the phrenic nerve stimulator restores a more stable breathing pattern during sleep by stimulating the phrenic nerve to activate the diaphragm during CSA. Both nerve stimulators have been shown to reduce AHI severity and improve quality of life for patients suffering from sleep-disordered breathing.

CONCLUSIONS: PAP therapy, although the gold standard, has limitations in the treatment of sleep apnea. New modalities such as hypoglossal nerve stimulator and phrenic nerve stimulator may help to overcome difficulties with adherence and offer new options for treatment of both obstructive and central sleep apnea.

PMID:33687028 | DOI:10.1097/MJT.0000000000001345

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