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Improving sleep for patients with central sleep apnea

UCI Health first in Orange County to offer only FDA-approved device for treatment

April 28, 2022
Orange, Calif. – Millions of Americans are sleep deprived, and many of them suffer from chronic sleep disorders. A good night of sleep is crucial for your health, safety and productivity.

“Untreated sleep disorders can increase your risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, diabetes, obesity, depression and cancer,” said Dr. Rami N. Khayat, medical director of UCI Health Sleep Medicine Services and a specialist in pulmonology and sleep medicine. “We have developed a comprehensive program to help sufferers, starting with sleep studies to accurately diagnose your disorder, and providing a comprehensive array of therapies, including the only FDA-approved implantable device to treat a little-known form of apnea.”

Up to 10% of adults suffer from one of the two main types of sleep apnea, obstructive and central. Of the two, the more common is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), in which a physical obstruction, often in the nose, tongue or throat, disrupts breathing at night. Central sleep apnea (CSA) is less common and refers to a condition caused when the brain does not send the correct signals to the large muscle that controls breathing.

“Patients with CSA often don’t fit the usual profile of obstructive sleep apnea,” said Khayat. “They generally don’t snore through the night, so they’re tougher to diagnose.”

Sleepiness and fatigue often overlap with symptoms associated with heart failure, he said. For about 75% of CSA patients who already suffer from heart failure, atrial fibrillation or both, sleep apnea can significantly worsen their condition, Khayat said.

The sole therapy approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat CSA, Remedē®, is now available at UCI Health, the only health system in Orange County to offer it. The device is implanted just below the collarbone in a minimally invasive procedure. At UCI Health, interventional cardiologist Dr. Arnold Seto implants the device and works as a team with Khayat to ensure all of the patient’s needs are met.

“The treatment is based on the same principle as the cardiac pacemaker,” Khayat said. “In someone with CSA whose breathing rhythm is disrupted, the device jolts the phrenic nerve in the chest to stimulate the diaphragm, the large muscle that controls breathing.”

Khayat recommends that anyone suffering from poor sleep consider a sleep study to assess whether their sleep disturbance results from inappropriate signals from the brain (CSA) or an airway blockage (OSA).

“UCI Health has the leading treatments available for each type of apnea,” he said.

Patients can schedule an appointment at 714-509-2230 or submit an online request ›