In a new study published in the Journal of Physiology, researchers successfully repurposed two existing drugs to reduce the severity of sleep apnea in people by at least 30%.
The study is from Flinders University. One author is Professor Danny Eckert.
Sleep apnea is a condition where the upper airway from the back of the nose to the throat closes repetitively during sleep, restricting oxygen intake and causing people to wake as often as 100 times or more per hour.
Those with untreated sleep apnea are more likely to develop heart disease, dementia and depression, and are two to four times more likely to crash a car than the general population.
Despite almost thirty years of research, there are no approved drug therapies to treat the condition.
Previous research showed two classes of medication, reboxetine and butylbromide, were able to keep muscles active during sleep in people without sleep apnea, and assist their ability to breathe.
In the study, the team used a multitude of recording instruments to measure whether reboxetine and butylbromide could successfully target the main causes of sleep apnea.
This included balancing the electrical activity of muscles around the airway, preventing the throat from collapsing while people were sleeping, and improving the regulation of carbon dioxide and breathing during sleep.
Results showed these medications did in fact increase the muscle activity around participants’ airways, with the drugs reducing the severity of participants’ sleep apnea by up to one-third.
Participants’ oxygen intake improved, their number of breathing stoppages was a third or less.
These new findings allow researchers to further refine these types of medications so that they have even greater benefits than what has currently been found.
Until now, the main therapy for sleep apnea involves wearing a mask to bed, or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Therapy (CPAP), which benefits millions.
However, many people find it uncomfortable, and half the people that try it find it hard to tolerate. Plus, the efficacy of second-line therapies, such as mouth guards fitted by dentists, can be unpredictable and expensive.
If you care about sleep, please read studies about nightly sleep of 5 hours, less, may increase risk of dementia and findings of common high blood pressure drugs may contribute to sleep loss.
For more information about sleep and your health, please see recent studies about this sleep disorder common in people with thinking and memory problems and results showing that sleep can maximize vaccine effectiveness.
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