The remedē System, an implantable stimulator designed to treat central sleep apnea, has shown improvements in patients like James Drake, 74, of Cumberland, Md, who underwent the procedure at WVU Medicine two years ago.

WVU Medicine offers the treatment approach for those who haven’t responded to traditional therapies. The device sends a signal to the phrenic nerve when the patient stops breathing, prompting the diaphragm to function and assist the patient in breathing. The remedē System was approved to treat moderate to severe central sleep apnea in adult patients by the US Food and Drug Administration in 2017.

“Central sleep apnea is more difficult to treat than the more common obstructive sleep apnea because CPAP and BiPAP machines aren’t as effective,” says Sunil Sharma, MD, WVU Medicine pulmonologist, in a release. “Because these patients’ diaphragms aren’t receiving signals to breathe, air pressure alone can’t completely relieve their symptoms.”

Drake was instructed to undergo a sleep study in May 2020 after he fell asleep at a cardiology appointment, and his doctor noticed symptoms of sleep apnea. A sleep study confirmed his doctor’s suspicions. His doctor prescribed a CPAP device to help him breathe during the night. When that was not effective, his doctor prescribed BiPAP device to assist his breathing while sleeping.

“I had real problems when I was using BiPAP and CPAP,” Drake says in a release. “It was blowing particles into my eyes, and I had constant eye doctor appointments. I had to use a lot of eye drops, and it was very uncomfortable.”

While Drake was undergoing tests and trials, his wife, Christina Drake, started researching options. She learned about the Inspire and remedē devices and spoke with people in online forums about them.

“Based on his symptoms, I was convinced that it was central sleep apnea, not obstructive,” Christina Drake says in a release. “I filled out a patient contact form for remedē, and a patient advocate reached out to me. She recommended I get on the Facebook remedē support group.”

The support group helped her find Sharma, who was able to see Drake in early 2021 and approved him for implantation of the device.

Drake says he has seen a significant change in his life since receiving the device. He is no longer falling asleep at inappropriate times and has more energy to do what he loves, like gardening.

“We have several kinds of vegetables, and our flower garden has taken over our deck. I didn’t have the energy to garden before, and it’s great to spend time outside in the evenings, enjoying time on the deck with my wife and cat,” he says in a release. “I used to fall asleep watching TV around 8:30 in the evening, but now I’m able to stay awake and talk with my wife. It has improved our relationship.”