New sleep apnea mask less intrusive
By Alex Nixon
Published: Saturday, June 29, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Patients with sleep apnea are increasingly looking for products that are more comfortable and less intrusive.
Once dominated by large, hard plastic masks that covered a patient's mouth and nose, the industry is meeting consumer demand with lower-profile masks that fit over the nose and are made of softer, lighter materials.
Sleep apnea, a condition that affects millions of Americans, is a disorder in which patients stop breathing momentarily, but often, during sleep. The condition can have serious implications, including increasing risk for heart disease, stroke and obesity.
Bulky, uncomfortable masks lead some patients to stop treatment, which involves pushing air into the patient's throat to keep his airway open during sleep.
Phillips Respironics, a Murrysville medical device maker and the pioneer of sleep apnea products in the 1980s, has introduced a mask that is being touted by the company as a significant advancement.
The Wisp fits over a patient's nose with minimal contact to the face and a strap that goes around the side of the face, rather than over the head, said Scott Frenz, senior director of marketing for Phillips Respironics.
Nasal masks have become the most popular type over the past seven to eight years, Frenz said. But companies like Phillips Respironics are constantly looking for ways to improve them. Full-face masks that cover the mouth and nose now account for only about 25 percent of the market, he said.
“There's no forehead piece like most traditional nasal masks,” he said of the Wisp. “It's designed to not need a forehead piece for stability.”
The strap also comes in two styles: a silicon material that is nearly clear or a soft cloth-like material, he said.
The market for masks and other products related to treating sleep apnea in the United States is predicted to grow to $2.5 billion by 2017, up from $1.5 billion in 2010, according to GlobalData, a United Kingdom-based market research company. Experts have said that up to 80 percent of people with sleep apnea have not been diagnosed.
Respironics Inc., founded in 1976, was acquired by Royal Phillips Electronics in 2008 for $4.9 billion. It has about 1,600 employees in the Pittsburgh region.
It's not the only local company hoping to give patients a better experience with sleep apnea masks.
Circadiance, an Export company founded in 2007 by a former Respironics employee, makes several masks that use a waterproof, breathable synthetic fabric rather than plastic. The result, the company says, is greater comfort.
It also makes a version that uses a strap around the side of the face rather than over the head called SleepWeaver Elan, which it began selling in October.
Company officials could not be reached for comment, but in a press release, Circadiance CEO Dave Groll said, “We designed SleepWeaver Elan to satisfy an even wider range of the growing population of sleep apnea patients.”
Alex Nixon is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7928 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Solar panel prices finally rebound
- Pennsylvania, other states considering bids to host Boeing 777X production
- How can I delete my search history on Facebook?
- Madoff fraud still stings ex-clients 5 years later