Dave Janssens always feels tired during the day, no matter how much sleep he gets.
"I probably notice it more when I'm driving around. I'll be driving around and just get really tired and just feel like I need to go and take a nap," he said.
What Dave has is obstructive sleep apnea. Dr. Sarah Stolz of the Swedish Sleep Center says being tired is only one of the side effects.
"People with untreated sleep apnea have higher rates of high blood pressure, heart failure, heart attack, stroke, atrial fibrillation. They don't live as long."
The usual fix is a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine. It comes with a face-piece, worn overnight, that helps the patient maintain steady breathing. The result: no more snoring.
"There are some people who take to it like a duck to water and the love it and they wouldn't be with out it and it's like the best things that's every happened to them," said Dr. Stolz.
Then there are patients like Dave.
"It didn't work at all. I just felt worse when I woke up before I tried using it," he said.
Now researchers are investigating another option.
"It involves placing... a pacemaker device in the chest...and it has a way of sensing when the person is string to breathe, and if it knows you're trying to breathe, it sends a signal to the muscles that controls the tongue," said Dr. Stolz.
Those muscles are stimulated to prevent the tongue from collapsing and blocking the airway.
Dave is hopeful this will work for him.
"If it can take care of the problem, it would just be really nice to have it done with and have something take care of it instead of address it every single night with a mouth-guard or a CPAP," he said.
Dr. Stolz agrees.
"What I'm so happy about with this study is that it gives us another tool in our toolbox for those people who are really suffering from a problem that's potentially life-threatening."
The STAR (Stimulation Therapy for Apnea Reduction) Trial is still recruiting. To be eligible, study participants must have already tried and failed using the CPAP.
The Swedish Sleep Center is the only site in the Northwest recruiting for this international study. All patients who qualify will receive the device at no cost and can expect to be followed for 18- months.
To speak with a study representative, call 1-888-844-4811.
Sleep Medicine Asosciates http://www.gosleep.com/