DENVER (KDVR) — A new device that has received initial clearance from the Food and Drug Administration shows signs of becoming a gamechanger in the way doctors diagnose sleep apnea.
The condition not only leads to restless nights but is also associated with some serious cardiovascular issues. Detection is key! Many people don’t even know they have sleep apnea.
Confirming a diagnosis requires some form of a sleep study. Sleep studies can be an inconvenience whether they’re conducted at a clinic or at home. The studies require chest and airway monitoring.
A chin-affixed device known as Sunrise focuses on muscle movement to gather needed data for a potential diagnosis. The French company advertises the device as a new clinically validated bio-signal to diagnose sleep apnea.
“It’s a small sensor, it’s three grams heavy,” said Sunrise CEO and Founder Laurent Martinot. “You just stick it on your chin and it will measure.”
Martinot told FOX31, the device measures movements associated with the jaw bone. Those movements can tell doctors quite a bit according to Dr. Atul Malhotra with the University of California San Diego.
“In sleep apnea, we believe the jaw, or the mandible, is important,” Malhotra explained. “Measuring those movements can be quite helpful in terms of deciding what stage of sleep people are in, whether they are having sleep apnea or not, [and the extent of] their respiratory effort.”
Sleep apnea can be very serious. It results in periodic airway blockage during sleep.
“The prevalence of obstructive sleep apnea is probably around 5% of the general population, or up to 25% depending on what numbers you look at,” said Dr. Sheila Tsai, a sleep medicine physician at National Jewish Health.
Tsai said the condition can cause lower oxygen saturation and interrupt sleep throughout the night.
“It can result in cardiovascular issues if untreated,” Tsai warned.
A continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine is the best current treatment aiming to achieve a restful night. The current process of receiving a diagnosis dissuades some from confirming a sleep apnea diagnosis. That’s where the app-based Sunrise device can help.
“Muscle contractions that create movement [is what] we’re picking up, and we’ve been able to translate that into what it means, what your brain is doing at night,” said Martinot.
Sunrise will provide physicians with information from the device through an online portal to assist in the diagnosis process.
“It’s easy for the patients,” said Martinot. “Easy for the healthcare professionals.”
Sunrise is unveiling its device at the SLEEP meeting in June.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify when the product will be unveiled.