Respicardia Aims to Bring Implantable Solution to the Problem of Central Sleep Apnea

Published: Nov 12, 2012

For the past six years, Minnesota device startup Respicardia has been trying to commercialize a product that President and CEO Bonnie Labosky believes has no rival worldwide. It is an implantable device, the size of a pacemaker, that can be placed in the right or left side of chest to treat the problem of central sleep apnea. Unlike obstructive sleep apnea, which is a more common type of sleep apnea associated with an anatomical malfunction, central sleep apnea occurs when the brain cannot properly transmit signals that tell the body how to breathe. While the cause is unknown, one school of thought is that it is associated with cardiovascular issues, Labosky said. In fact, about 35 percent to 40 percent of all heart failure patients have central sleep apnea. That association with cardiovascular problems led the founders of the company to design an implantable product that can deliver mild electrical pulses – neurostimulation – to manage the central sleep apnea nightly. Specifically the stimulation is provided to one of the two phrenic nerves that are responsible for transmitting the signals for breathing from the brain to the diaphragm, Labosky explained.

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