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Sleep apnea drug trial was so effective, some people stopped using CPAP machines

Published Jul 2nd, 2024 2:41PM EDT
woman sleeping in bed
Image: Gorodenkoff/Adobe

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Testing for a new sleep apnea drug has proven exceptionally successful. Not only has the drug allowed some patients to abandon their CPAP machines entirely, but it has also helped boost weight loss and heart health, the results show.

The drug has been so effective in its first trials that it could become the first therapeutic to actually treat sleep apnea, a condition that affects more than 936 million people worldwide.

The results are based on a study of the sleep apnea drug tirzepatide, which saw 469 participants with OSA and weight issues use it to try to improve their quality of life and overall sleep health. Researchers from the University of California, San Diego’s School of Medicine handled the test.

Tirzepatide is mostly known for its use in treating type 2 diabetes and obesity, and is currently sold under the brand names Zepbound and Mounjaro. However, this is the first time that researchers have also looked at how the drug might affect patients with sleep apnea.

scientists analyzing data on computerImage source: Gorodenkoff / Adobe

In the very first trial, the researchers reported an overall 51.5 disturbance events per hour of sleep. After 52 weeks, the patient on tirzepatide experienced fewer than 25.3 events per hour. In the second trial, the initial reported average of 49.5 events more than halved to an average of 29.3 or fewer events per hour.

These results are absolutely inspiring for the millions suffering from OSA, and having a proper therapeutic sleep apnea drug could offer a lot of respite from the bulky and noisy CPAP machines that many patients have had to rely on for years at this point.

It is important to note that the best-reported results came with the most consistent use of the drug. And like any other drug of this nature, it isn’t without its annoying side effects — most notably those related to stomach and gut health. The results of these first trials are published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

From here, the researchers plan to study and assess the drug’s long-term efficacy in treating sleep apnea. Medical research continues to improve — and we’ve even seen scientists creating AI that can detect heart issues before they happen. This latest research will hopefully open new doors for treating OSA more effectively.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.