In heart failure patients, novel implantable device may treat central sleep apnea. The implanted device is similar to a pacemaker and treats sleep apnea specifically in heart failure patients.
Lead author Professor William T. Abraham said, “The remede® system is the first fully implantable device to treat central sleep apnea in heart failure patients. Unlike traditional mask-based therapies – which have been shown to work only in some patients under certain conditions in CSA [central sleep apnea] – the remede® system is acceptable to patients and improves their sleep and heart function. Patients using the device tell us they haven’t slept so well in years. They have more energy and can do their normal daily activities without falling asleep. They also don’t have to fight with a mask.”
Sleep apnea is a common comorbidity affecting nearly 35 percent of heart failure patients. Sleep apnea in heart failure can double the risk of death. The remede® system uses unilateral transvenous phrenic nerve stimulation to prevent central sleep apnea before it occurs. Prof. Abraham continued, “The device stimulates the diaphragm via the phrenic nerve, causing the diaphragm to contract. It regularizes the patient’s breathing pattern throughout the night, rather than waiting until the patient stops breathing to react.”
The pilot study included 46 participants with moderate to severe sleep apnea. All of them received the implanted device. Results were collected at baseline, six months, and 12 months. At the one-year mark, the device showed to significantly improve sleep parameters. It also improved cardiac endpoints like heart rate variability and boosted quality of life.
Prof. Abraham concluded, “All heart failure patients should be screened for sleep apnea and those with OSA [obstructive sleep apnea] should be offered a mask-based therapy. Patients with CSA are good candidates for the remede® system, which can improve their sleepiness, quality of life, and potentially their clinical outcomes.”
Sleep apnea treatment
Sleep apnea has been tied to a number of negative health outcomes, including high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and fatigue due to poor sleep. It’s important that sleep apnea is well treated to prevent these complications.
Common treatments for sleep apnea include addressing medical problems which could be contributing to sleep apnea, for example losing weight, reducing opioid use, using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device, using adaptive servo-ventilation, bi-level positive airway pressure (BPAP), supplemental oxygen, or medications that can help stimulate breathing.
Other treatment options and remedies to improve sleep apnea include losing weight, avoiding alcohol or sleeping pills, sleeping on your side as opposed to your back, using a nasal strip or spray to open airways, and avoiding sleep deprivation.
Heart failure treatment
Heart failure treatment can involve medical intervention and lifestyle changes. Lifestyle treatment options include:
- Control your risk factors: Diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol increase the risk of heart disease, so it’s important to manage these conditions. Talk to your healthcare provider about an effective treatment plan.
- Don’t smoke: If you smoke, try to quit.
- Maintain a healthy weight and get in regular physical activity
- Eat a heart-healthy diet: A diet that’s full of vegetables and fruits and whole grains is good for your heart. Limit the amount of saturated fat and sugary beverages in your diet.
- Talk to your doctor about aspirin: Daily use of low-dose aspirin is not right for everyone. Aspirin can have side effects, so talk with your doctor.
- Take prescribed medications as directed
- Heart devices: Pacemaker, cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) devices, implantable cardioverter defibrillators, and CRT-Ds.
By combining lifestyle factors along with medication and other treatment, you can have greater success in improving your heart health and reducing your risk for another cardiac event.