Itamar Medical Develops Device To Help OSA Treatment
Itamar Medical was one of the world’s first companies to recognize the connection between sleep apnea and heart disease. Today, it’s the one company that provides cardiologists a stage to track, treat and manage sleep apnea their patients are suffering with.
CEO Gilad Glick said cardiologists are open to this idea. Glick said after years of this theory floating around – that there’s been a direct link between the two – the medical community is endorsing Itamar Medical’s ideas. He said many cardiologists attended their international symposium held in Tel Aviv. He said with the company’s Total Sleep Solution, doctors and cardiologists finally have a simple way to handle heart patients with a tricky-to-implement care answer.
Itamar had its own mini-symposium at the Tel Aviv symposium called, “Sleep Apnea and Arrhythmias”, taking a look at the latest research that shows a powerful connection between heart problems and sleep issues, and showing cardiologists ways to incorporate sleep management into treatment plans.
The research began snow piling in data during the last five years, demonstrating that sleep apnea is not just related to heart attacks but an actual cause of them.
Glick said research shows that sleep apnea is a driving force behind cardiac disease – the more a person suffers with sleep apnea, the more heart disease they suffer with. If someone doesn’t suffer with sleep apnea, they have a less likely chance of developing heart disease.
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type of this disease, usually occurring with people who have little muscle tone – middle-aged and older. However, it can also occur in people who are out of shape or overweight/obese. It causes their breathing tube to narrow, restricting how much air flows into the body.
The deadly part of OSA isn’t the choking that comes from the lack of air. A person who can’t breathe is likely to wake up immediately. No, the danger lies in the potential stroke and heart attack. With less oxygen going into the blood stream, the body must work harder so blood gets into all the systems and organs. With the heart pumping harder, the sufferer increases their risk for cardiovascular incidents.
It’s thought that one of 15 Americans age 50 and older are suffering with some kind of OSA, with a higher risk of experiencing a heart attack when they reach 65 years old. Sleep apnea that’s left untreated can increase the chances for stroke and sudden death from a heart attack. There’s a 500 percent increased chance for death due to cardiovascular issues.
Several years back, Itamar Medical developed a device that could help with the detection of OSA, measuring the flow of blood within the arteries to find out how hard the heart works during sleep. It was known as PAT or Peripheral Arterial Tone – measuring the arterial function, and speed and health of the flow of blood.
The device was known as WatchPAT, setting off an alarm when there is an increase of blood flow because the heart is working overtime while the person sleeps. The PAT technology is a real assistance to cardiologists who can use it to determine if patients are indeed suffering with the disease. However, dealing with apnea is a matter in itself.
Glick said traditional apnea management is a pain – demands tubes, sensors and various kinds of equipment that’s rather invasive. He said cardiologists are not generally equipped in dealing with OSA, and they typically don’t have the time to incorporate them. Therefore, he said, half of all OSA cases are successfully treated.
He said with the Total Sleep Solution, cardiologists now have a platform that lets them incorporate OSA treatment.
WatchPAT is a wearable monitor that will read the information, upload it to the cloud server and evaluates the important OSA and heart signs. When a problem is detected, the care provider is made aware of it and an intervention plan can be developed in order to mitigate further OSA problems.
Glick said, 60 hospitals worldwide have incorporated it. On top of that, hundreds of cardiologists and doctors have used the system. He said for doctors it’s a win/win. They now have a system that patients can use, helping them to mitigate a major medical issue that can cause major problems in cardiac patients. And, they don’t have to spend a lot of their time focusing on a new type of care component. The work has already been done, Glick said.
Glick said there are 3.5 million Americans who have sleep apnea, and most will have open heart surgery or a catheter inserted into their heart. He said untreated sleep apnea only has a 60 percent survival rate. Heart patients who’ve been treated for their sleep apnea have an 80 percent chance of survival.
Glick said there’s no doubt that a system is needed for the treatment of sleep apnea, which is why cardiologists are quite interested in what Itamar Medical is doing.