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New device helps people with sleep apnea

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U.S. - Millions of Americans suffer from sleep apnea.  Now the Food and Drug Administration has approved a new solution for those who are unable to use the traditional mask treatment.

Patients with the condition have their upper airway close during sleep so they have dangerous pauses in breathing.

A study at the Medical College of Wisconsin is testing a new device called Inspire.  It's a pacemaker-like generator that's placed in the chest along with two wires.  When activated, the system senses breathing patterns.

“We actually stimulate one of the nerves that goes to the upper airway by an implantable device and this helps hold the airway open during sleep,” said Dr. B. Tucker Woodson, Medical College of Wisconsin.

Patients use a remote to turn the system on and off when they wake up.  The FDA has now approved the device for patients with moderate to severe sleep apnea who are not able to use the traditional mask.  Doctors say getting sleep apnea under control is key, because it's linked to a number of health issues.
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