Pitt researchers say a new device may help people with sleep apnea, a condition that can lead to heart attacks, strokes and other serious health problems.
People with sleep apnea stop breathing often for a minute or longer several times during the night when they're sleeping. The episodes can increase the risk for heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure and even death.
Researchers at 22 centers, including UPMC, studied a new implantable device that provides a mild electronic stimulation to the patient's upper airway during sleep. The treatment's designed to keep the tongue from collapsing and blocking the airway.
Researchers say patients who used the device for a year had an approximately 70 percent reduction in sleep apnea severity, as well as significant reductions in daytime sleepiness.
All patients underwent surgery to implant the device.