Could a pill replace CPAP for OSA?

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

CHICAGO - Two researchers are exploring the possibility that drugs may be the future of sleep apnea treatment. UCLA neuroscientist Jerome Siegel and David Carley, a neuroscientist at the University of Illinois, Chicago, treated patients with the antidepressant mirtazapine. On average, patients using the drug had a 50% decrease in the number of times they stopped breathing at night. Currently approved only for treating depression, the drug works by manipulating serotonin, a chemical in the brain that helps regulate normal breathing during sleep. The researchers hope further studies will make this and other medications a viable alternative to CPAP. Right now, CPAP is the most effective treatment for patients with OSA but many patients find the mask uncomfortable to wear, making compliance an issue.