Pacemakers for Central Sleep Apnea

Central Sleep Apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by pauses in breathing during sleep, though it can also affect a patient’s respiratory effort while awake, and is a result of the brain failing to send the proper signals to the muscles that are in control of breathing. Central Sleep Apnea can be a congenital or acquired condition, with the acquired condition typically being the result of a brain stem stroke, tumor or other trauma. There are also adults with Central Sleep Apnea who were simply not diagnosed when younger, and do not learn of the condition until later in life.

There are multiple types of sleep apneas, including:

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  • Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSA), a more common form of sleep apnea that occurs when something partially or completely blocks the airway during sleep

  • Central sleep apnea, characterized by pauses in in breathing during sleep, is a result of the brain not correctly using the neurological pathways to the diaphragm
  • Complex sleep apnea syndrome (also known as treatment-emergent central sleep apnea), a combination of OSA and central sleep apnea

Central Sleep Apnea differs from Obstructive Sleep Apnea which is characterized by a physical disruption of airflow in spite of respiratory effort, and is less common than obstructive sleep apnea.

Risk Factors and Related Conditions

Central sleep apnea can affect patients of all ages. However, there are statistical factors that coincide with a potentially higher risk of patients developing the condition, including:

  • Being male, as they are more likely to develop the condition than females
  • Older age, especially adults over 65 years of age
  • Having a heart condition, such as an irregular heartbeat
  • Opioid use in any capacity
  • Suffering from a brainstem lesion, stroke, or brain tumor, any of which can potentially impair the ability to regulating breathing
  • Use of a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, which is known as treatment-emergent central sleep apnea

What are the Symptoms of Central Sleep Apnea?

Only a licensed physician can properly diagnose central sleep apnea.  If you believe you have symptoms related to central sleep apnea, make an appointment with your doctor so that you can discuss proper diagnosis and, if needed, potential treatment options. CSA and OSA share a number of symptoms, which can make diagnosing which type of sleep apnea a patient has difficult. The more common symptoms include:

  • Difficulty staying asleep
  • Episodes of not breathing or difficulty breathing while asleep
  • Loud snoring
  • Waking up with a headache and/or dry mouth

(Source: WebMD – Central Sleep Apnea)

Also, many individuals with central sleep apnea report what they refer to as “forgetting to breathe while awake.”

How is Central Sleep Apnea Treated?

Treatment for central sleep apnea must be conducted under the care of your physician. There are several options for managing the effects of central sleep apnea that physicians will often suggest. These include:

  • A continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine that provides enough pressure to keep the upper airway open via a mask
  • Diaphragm pacing, a minimally invasive process that stimulates the phrenic nerve so that the patient can breathe more naturally

The Avery Breathing Pacemaker

The Avery Breathing Pacemaker is a unique, FDA-approved diaphragm pacing device that promotes natural breathing in patients with central sleep apnea—as well as several other conditions—24 hours per day to patients of all ages. With this device, electrodes are placed on the phrenic nerve in the back or chest and connect to an external device that creates radio waves. These waves are transferred to the nerve to stimulate it, causing the diaphragm to contract as it would naturally.

This device offers several benefits to patients over mechanical ventilation (e.g., PPV) systems including:

  • Lower risk of upper airway infections due to reduction in suctioning, elimination of external humidifier and ventilator circuits, and potential removal of tracheostomy tube in some patients where appropriate
  • More natural breathing function that is physiologically more accurate and comfortable
  • Compact design without bulky tubing and batteries, which allows for greatly increased mobility (some of our patients still enjoy swimming and horseback riding!)
  • Superior sensory and related motor functions, including improved sense of smell, ease of eating and drinking, and normal breathing and speech patterns.
  • Significant long-term cost savings – Diaphragm Pacing Systems typically pay for themselves in roughly two years, with patients saving an average of $20,000 per year thereafter

The Avery Breathing Pacemaker has been featured in several studies and has been drastically improving the lives of patients for over three decades. It is the only diaphragm-pacing device with full pre-market approval from the USFDA and CE marking privileges under the European Active Implantable Medical Device Directive for adult and pediatric use.

For More Information

For more information, please call us at 631-864-1600, or click the “request info” button below and fill out the contact form. We would be happy to get you more information about how the diaphragm pacing system may help, and connect you with a physician familiar with the device in your area if needed.  If you’re looking for a physician, you can find a list of physicians and medical centers in the United States here, or find a list of international representatives here.

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