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Innovative treatments for adults with obstructive sleep apnea

Authors Weaver T, Calik M, Farabi S, Fink A, Galang-Boquiren M, Kapella M, Prasad B, Carley D

Received 5 May 2014

Accepted for publication 22 July 2014

Published 18 November 2014 Volume 2014:6 Pages 137—147


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Terri E Weaver,1,2 Michael W Calik,1,2 Sarah S Farabi,1,2 Anne M Fink,1,2 Maria T Galang-Boquiren,2,3 Mary C Kapella,1,2 Bharati Prasad,2,4 David W Carley1,2

1Biobehavioral Health Science Department, College of Nursing, University of Illinois at Chicago; 2Center for Narcolepsy, Sleep and Health, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Nursing, 3Department of Orthodontics, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry, 4Sleep Center, Department of Medicine, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine, Chicago, IL, USA

Abstract: Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) affects one in five adult males and is associated with significant comorbidity, cognitive impairment, excessive daytime sleepiness, and reduced quality of life. For over 25 years, the primary treatment has been continuous positive airway pressure, which introduces a column of air that serves as a pneumatic splint for the upper airway, preventing the airway collapse that is the physiologic definition of this syndrome. However, issues with patient tolerance and unacceptable levels of treatment adherence motivated the exploration of other potential treatments. With greater understanding of the physiologic mechanisms associated with OSA, novel interventions have emerged in the last 5 years. The purpose of this article is to describe new treatments for OSA and associated complex sleep apnea. New approaches to complex sleep apnea have included adaptive servoventilation. There is increased literature on the contribution of behavioral interventions to improve adherence with continuous positive airway pressure that have proven quite effective. New non-surgical treatments include oral pressure devices, improved mandibular advancement devices, nasal expiratory positive airway pressure, and newer approaches to positional therapy. Recent innovations in surgical interventions have included laser-assisted uvulopalatoplasty, radiofrequency ablation, palatal implants, and electrical stimulation of the upper airway muscles. No drugs have been approved to treat OSA, but potential drug therapies have centered on increasing ventilatory drive, altering the arousal threshold, modifying loop gain (a dimensionless value quantifying the stability of the ventilatory control system), or preventing airway collapse by affecting the surface tension. An emerging approach is the application of cannabinoids to increase upper airway tone.

Keywords: obstructive sleep apnea, innovative treatment, continuous positive airway pressure, oral appliance, nerve stimulation

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