Tirzepatide Shows Significant Reduction in Sleep Apnea Symptoms for Obese Adults

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Sleep apnea takes place when a person has difficulty breathing during the sleeping period. The most common type of sleep apnea is called obstructive sleep apnea. Researchers say that 70% of people who have obstructive sleep apnea are also prone to obesity. A recent report found results from a phase 3 clinical trial. It concluded that tirzepatide, which is the main ingredient found in type 2 diabetes medication Mounjaro and weight loss treatment Zepbound, helps reduce symptom severity by almost two-thirds in adults with obesity and obstructive sleep apnea. 

Eli Lilly and Company, maker of both Mounjaro and Zepbound, recently reported results from the SURMOUNT-OSA clinical trials examining the use of tirzepatide to improve obstructive sleep apnea symptoms. This trial included 469 study participants from the US, Brazil, China, Australia, Germany, and four other nations. Participants had moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea and obesity. They were either unable or unwilling to use positive airway pressure (PAP) therapy examined during SURMOUNT-OSA Study 1 — or were and planned to continue to use PAP therapy during the trial, which was looked at during SURMOUNT-OSA Study 2. 

For both studies, participants received either a dose of tirzepatide or a placebo for 52 weeks. After analysis, researchers found that participants who received tirzepatide injections experienced a significantly reduced apnea-hypopnea index compared to those taking the placebo. 

The apnea-hypopnea index is an obstructive sleep apnea diagnostic tool used to count how many times one’s breathing partially or fully stops when asleep. Scientists also reported that participants who took tirzepatide lost about 20% of their weight between the two studies. Obstructive sleep apnea impacts obesity, meaning it is most commonly seen in overweight people. 

Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep-related condition that causes the upper airway to blockage or collapse, causing the sufferer to stop breathing several times a night. The obstruction can be caused by a thick tongue, a thick neck, or excess fatty tissue in the upper airway, all of which are more common in people with obesity. 

Previous studies show that obstructive sleep apnea can impair a person’s quality of life as it negatively impacts their capability of getting a good night’s sleep. Low oxygen levels during sleep are prone to numerous diseases and life-threatening events. Research also says that around 40 million people are affected by obstructive sleep apnea, and since rates of obesity are on the rise, that number is also predicted to spike. 


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