'Inspire' system providing relief for sleep apnea sufferers (Source: WOIO)
Sleep apnea is one of the biggest sleep concerns out there. It can cause serious health problems from depression to heart failure, even stroke.
Now, doctors have a potential solution to the problem: The Inspire system.
It is a surgically implanted pacemaker-like device that stops the snoring and loss of breath.
Brian Heiser says it’s the last thing he wanted to do, but he was so desperate for a good night's sleep that he had to give it a try.
Heiser says his sleep apnea was caused when his tongue would fall back against his throat as he slept, obstructing his airway. He says he tried the most common option, the CPAP mask, and it simply did not work.
So the Inspire system sounded like a great idea. A pacemaker is put into the chest. It connects to a wire that attaches to a nerve in the neck that controls tongue movement.
When the device is turned on, the electric current is activated to move the tongue forward during sleep which opens up the space for breathing in the throat.
When Heiser turns it on with the remote control, there’s a jolt to his tongue.
"It’s just the weirdest thing. Turn it on to go to sleep and wake up in the morning feeling great, turn it off," Heiser said.
It is not risk free, though, as one specialist explains.
"We're operating on a part of the body where there are these other nerves so potentially problems with speaking swallowing, movement of different muscles of your face. Those risks are all relatively low though."
Overall, Heiser really felt the health risks of his apnea were greater than the risks of having the surgery.
Now, not only is he sleeping better, so is his wife.
Many insurance providers will pay for it.
CLICK HERE to learn more about the Inspire system.