1998 Volume 186 Issue 4 Pages 225-241
The prevalence of sleep apnea syndrome (SAS) is approximately 7.5% in Japanese adults aged 18-68 years old. SAS is characterized by repeated episodes of apnea, especially obstructive apnea, during sleep. Severe SAS has life-threatening complications such as pulmonary hypertension, arrhythmias, right heart failure or brain damage, which could be caused by hypoxemia and/or hypercapnia. Upper airway relaxation is responsible for the obstruction during apnea, and an increase in the activities of the upper airway muscles dilates and stiffens the upper airway wall. Maintaining the activities of the upper airway muscles may contribute to keeping the airway patent. Submental electrical stimulation of the upper airway muscles would be a novel treatment method for obstructive apnea.