The key to getting a good night's rest
Oventus Advances in Combatting Sleep Apnoea - Australian Financial Review (AFR)
Treatment for sleep apnoea usually involves either a mask or a mouthguard. A new Australian invention combines the best elements of both.
Brisbane dentist Chris Hart spent years struggling to sleep. He snored constantly. He often woke up during the night because he had stopped breathing because of a n obstruction in his nose and throat.
Like one in 10 Australians, Hart suffers from obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA).
This occurs when the airway is partially or completely obstructed during sleep. The obstruction can occur in the nose, the back of the throat or because the tongue sucks backwards and stops breathing.
Hart compares the condition to "someone putting their hand over a vacuum": No air can get past. Nasal surgery didn't help. He found sleep masks uncomfortable and that mouth guards had little effect.
Symptoms of OSA include snoring, lack of sleep, poor concentration, morning headaches, depressed mood, night sweats, weight gain, lack of energy and forgetfulness.
Sleep apnoea is most common in people aged over 55-particularly men and the overweight. Children with enlarged tonsils or adenoids can get it too. The number of people seeking treatment is growing as the population ages and gains weight.
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is considered the most effective treatment for OSA. A tube connects the patient's facemask to a machine, gently increasing air pressure in the throat and holding it open to prevent it becoming obstructed.
However, many people find the CPAP masks uncomfortable and struggle to wear them all night. The pumps are large and cumbersome, which means they are difficult for anyone who travels.
Many people with OSA turn to dental devices for relief. The custom-made mouthguards force the jaw forward, keeping the airways open at night.
Hart says dental devices can be effective for OSA caused by the tongue, but make little difference if the problem is in the nose or soft palate.
He was desperate for a solution: "It was driving me nuts because I couldn't get a good night's sleep."
So he made a device and tested it on himself: "I cut a saliva tube and fixed it to a mouthguard with putty and stuck it into my mouth," he says... It worked.
"The first night I put it in, my wife kept waking me up to make sure that I wasn't dead," he says. "I told her to stop - I was getting the best sleep of my life."
The key was getting the air to the back of the throat, below the obstructions, through a device that was easy to wear all night.
Hart set up a company, Oventus, and refined his original design with the help of the CSIRO. His invention, now called the O2Vent, is much more high-tech than his original home made device.
The enclosed airway, made from lightweight, durable titanium, delivers air from the mouth directly to the back of the throat, bypassing the nose, soft palate and tongue. The titanium is covered with dental polymer, custom-made to fit patients' mouths. The O2Vent is available through dentists in Australia.
Comfortable and easy to wear, the device has changed the lives of thousands of OSA sufferers, Hart says.
In trials of the device, up to 82 percent of patients stopped snoring completely. The rest reduced their snoring to a level where it wasn't annoying them or their partner, he says.
Directing air to the back of the throat has a similar effect to pumping it in with CPAP, Hart says.
However, for patients with severe OSA, the O2Vent can be hooked up to CPAP machines. This feature will be a game-changer for OSA treatment, Hart says.
In the trials, CPAP machines hooked up to the O2Vent used two-thirds less air pressure, he adds.
"When we added CPAP in, it was ultra low pressure CPAP- because the air was already able to get in there."
That means the CPAP pump could be made smaller and more portable.
"The pumps we are testing are able to fit in the palm of your hand," Hart says. "They don't have to carry a second suitcase on the plane, they don't have this big vacuum sitting on the bedside table. It's more user-friendly and more comfortable."
Oventus was awarded a $2.95 million grant from the Co-operative Research Centre in February to develop a customised treatment platform for sleep apnoea including the development of micro-PAP.
The company intends to further refine the O2Vent and CPAP machines and tailor user-friendly OSA treatment to individuals.
In January, the O2Vent launched in the United States.
Two products have been cleared by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Hart says. He hopes to have the CPAP-connected device cleared by the FDA this year.
"That will be the real shift in the landscape," he says. "That's where we get on the turf of the big guys."
About Oventus Medical Ltd
Oventus Medical Ltd (ASX:OVN) is a Brisbane, Australia, based medical device company that has commercialized and brought to market a new sleep treatment platform for the treatment of sleep apnoea and snoring that enhances the treatment outcomes of both oral appliance therapy and CPAP therapy through increased efficacy and greater adherence.
Oventus Medical Ltd