A New Sleep Apnea Treatment Could Help Millions | CBS News

In Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine, researchers unveiled a new treatment that utilizes a sensor to stimulate nerves, allowing the body to breathe when otherwise it would not.

“I am so excited about this new device,” Dr. Ash told the co-hosts of “CBS This Morning.” She said the device, known as a “pulse generator” is surgically implanted, requiring a two hour procedure.

“It senses your effort to breathe. So it senses that you’re trying to take a breath,” she said. “It sends a pulse stimulation to the hypoglossal nerve — the nerve in your neck that controls those muscles that keep the airway open, and stimulates them, so the airway doesn’t collapse.”

Current standard treatment for sleep apnea is a device called a CPAP. It is a machine that applies air pressure through a mask, which, if worn while sleeping, keeps the airway open. Many people find the masks bulky and uncomfortable, choosing instead to leave their apnea untreated.

“For people that cannot use (the CPAP), that cannot tolerate it, it will make all the difference,” Ash said about the new device.

The new device is still in preliminary stages awaiting FDA approval, but Dr. Ash says she looks forward to the day when it is available to the general public. 

Please click on the link to watch a video clip on CBS News http://www.cbsnews.com/video/new-sleep-apnea-treatment-uses-nerve-stimulation

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