Study: Devices for obstructive sleep apnea could improve symptoms of depression

Dr. Marcus Povitz

As med tech companies home in on innovative devices to treat obstructive sleep apnea, a new review shows that using a nightly device to treat the disorder could also lessen symptoms of depression.

Researchers at Western University in London, Ontario, Canada, looked at randomized, controlled trials of patients using continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices or a mandibular advancement device (MAD) which holds the lower jaw and tongue forward during sleep, and found that using CPAP devices eased depression symptoms compared to no sleep apnea treatment. MADs also improved depression symptoms compared to no treatment. The scientists published their findings in a November 2014 issue of PLOS Medicine.

Physicians have already seen noticeable improvements in patients' moods following sleep apnea treatment, but more studies are needed to see which patients stand to gain the most from the therapy, Dr. Marcus Povtiz of Western University, lead author of the review, told Reuters. The study shows that sleep apnea could partly contribute to the development or worsening of depression, and so treating the disorder could already provide a benefit to depressed patients, Dr. Anne Wheaton of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said (as quoted by the news outlet).

Inspire device--Courtesy of Inspire Medical Systems

Meanwhile, devicemakers continue to forge ahead with the development of next-generation products to treat sleep apnea. Inspire Medical Systems, a 2014 Fierce 15 company, touts its implantable neurostimulation device as an alternative to traditional CPAP therapy. In May, the company snagged $40 million in Series E financing to launch its product in the U.S. Inspire Medical Systems plans to offer the device in 70 hospitals next year and expand international commercialization for the product.

Inspire Medical Systems is far from the only med tech company looking to cash in on a growing market. Australia's SomnoMed and Israel's Itamar Medical are also charting progress in the field, eyeing a U.S. sleep disorder market estimated at $3.5 billion. In July, SomnoMed scored an FDA nod for its oral devices for obstructive sleep apnea. In September, Caesarea, Israel-based Itamar Medical said it was on track to end three years of sluggish growth after signing new sales deals in the U.S. and Japan and boosting its cash reserves for its home sleep test. The company's diagnostic devices use a fingertip sensor to track the health of nerves and blood vessels, providing a noninvasive "window" to the cardiovascular and autonomic nervous system, Itamar said on its website.

- read the Reuters story
- here's the PLOS abstract

Special Report: FierceMedicalDevices' 2014 Fierce 15 - Inspire Medical Systems - 2014 Fierce 15