Tongue pacemaker helps against breathing interruptions during sleep
Up to 20 percent of adults over the age of 50 are said to suffer from sleep apnea. This repeatedly leads to dangerous misfires. A "tongue pacemaker" was used for the first time to stimulate the muscles of the tongue with current pulses during sleep.
Increased risk of cardiovascular diseases
Irregular snoring can be an indication of a so-called "sleep apnea". Studies estimate that up to 20 percent of adults over the age of 50 suffer from this breathing disorder, which is associated with dangerous misfires. The syndrome can be life-threatening. Because of the lack of oxygen there is an increased risk of high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, heart attack and stroke. A new procedure can help combat breathing interruptions during sleep.
Tongue pacemaker for breathing interruptions in sleep
Otorhinolaryngologists at the University Hospital Düsseldorf (UKD) have used a "tongue pacemaker" for the first time in patients who suffer from breathing interruptions during sleep.
“The pacemaker stimulates the muscles of the tongue with current pulses during sleep. This helps prevent breathing interruptions, ”explains the senior physician at the UKD Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Dr. Christian Plettenberg, in a communication.
According to the information, the new method can be used if the usual treatment with the respiratory mask does not lead to improvement or is not possible.
No relaxing deep sleep and dream phases
Background of sleep apnea: In sleep, relaxing the muscles can narrow the airways as the tension in the tongue and throat muscles diminishes. The result is breathing interruptions with a drop in the oxygen content in the blood.
“One consequence is that the affected patients do not achieve the relaxing deep sleep and dream phases. During the day, they feel tired and unfocused. The risk of a stroke and a heart attack also increases, ”says Dr. Plettenberg.
If the problem is at the level of the base of the tongue, the pacemaker can help, according to the ENT specialist, who works closely with the sleep center at the Düsseldorf University Hospital.
Patient can turn on pacemaker by remote control
The pacemaker is the size of a "normal" standard pacemaker and is used in the chest area below the clavicle. Information about breathing is conveyed via a sensor.
An electrode under the tongue then emits a current pulse when inhaled at night. This impulse then acts on the tongue muscles and thus provides the necessary movement. The technical term is: "Hypoglossal stimulation", or more simply: tongue stimulation.
After insertion, the patient can switch the pacemaker on and off using a remote control. "You can also program a sleep time so that the device only starts after a certain time and does not interfere with falling asleep," explains Dr. Plettenberg.
The first interventions each lasted two hours. (ad)