Editorial Feature

The Use of Pressure Sensors in Sleep Apnea Devices

Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder that affects 3% to 7% of the population. As research into the disorder has increased in recent years, scientists are beginning to understand it as an important cause of medical morbidity and mortality.

The Use of Pressure Sensors in Sleep Apnea Devices

Image Credit: tommaso79/Shutterstock.com

Continuous PAP (CPAP), bi-level PAP (BiPAP) and automatic PAP (APAP) machines are often prescribed to those with sleep apnea to keep the airway open by sending air pressure via a mask to prevent the recurrent collapsing or narrowing of the airway.

Now, new technology is enhancing the reliability and performance of PAP devices via the integration of a multi-range pressure sensor. The innovation will help manage the condition, potentially improving the quality of life of those diagnosed with sleep apnea, and perhaps even reducing mortality rates.

Sleep Apnea can be Fatal, New Strategies are Needed to Treat The Condition

Around 38,000 people in the US die from heart disease, with sleep apnea as a complicating factor each year. The condition, a fairly common sleep disorder, is characterized by the repeated stopping and starting of breathing while a person is sleeping. As a result, the brain can become deprived of oxygen.

Left untreated, sleep apnea can increase a person’s chance of developing many serious and life-threatening health conditions and illnesses. Sleep apnea increases a person’s chance of experiencing heart failure by 140% and coronary heart disease by 30% and has been associated with an increased risk of dementia. It has also been linked with depression, potentially due to the disruption it causes to the sleep cycle.

A CPAP machine is usually the most common treatment route for people with sleep apnea. Therefore, the efficacy of such machines is vital to ensuring the long-term health of those with sleep apnea and perhaps even protecting them from the illnesses associated with it.

Enhancing CPAP/BiPAP/APAP Devices with Pressure Sensors

This year, Superior Sensor Technology, a US producer of sensors and sensor-based systems for the industrial, medical and HVAC markets, released its new CPAP/BiPAP/APAP pressure sensors that promise to will significantly enhance the reliability and performance of PAP devices as well as simplify the manufacturing process.

The new technology launched by Superior Sensor Technology in October 2021 integrates two individual pressure sensors: one differential pressure sensor to measure airflow and a gauge sensor to measure airway pressure. The CP201, the inaugural product from the CP Series, is a first-of-its-kind dual sensor that incorporates both these pressure sensors.

The differential pressure sensor it includes supports four programmable pressure ranges 250 to 2.5k Pa (1 to 10 inH20), while the gauge pressure sensor supports four programmable pressure ranges from 2 to 6k Pa (8 to 24 inH20). Tests have demonstrated the system’s accuracy to be within 0.05% of the selected range, which translates to a Total Error Band typically within 0.15% FSS, placing it in an industry-leading position in terms of accuracy.

The CP201 offers to enhance CPAP/BiPAP/APAP devices via: reducing board space and design complexity, making the systems easier to manufacture and maintain; decreasing the number of components used to construct the device, which increases the reliability of the device and while reducing the likeliness of performance errors. 

It also works on eliminating critical pneumatic noise with advanced digital filtering provided by the NimbleSense architecture, which improves the sensor output’s signal to noise ratio; streamlining the manufacturing process by allowing the same device to be incorporated into multiple PAP devices, and improving accuracy with the optional closed-loop control feature of the system.

Overall, the technology increases the accuracy and reliability of PAP devices used to manage sleep apnea while streamlining the manufacturing process. These enhancements could lead to better management of sleep apnea, thus enhancing the quality of life of those with the condition and possibly even reducing associated mortality rates.

New Technology Will Address the Increasing Prevalence of Sleep Apnea

While sleep apnea can affect anyone, specific populations are more susceptible. Age acts as a risk factor in developing sleep apnea, with elderly populations more likely to develop the sleep disorder.

As the elderly population increases as modern medicine help us to live longer, the number of people diagnosed with sleep apnea follows the trend.

As a result, manufacturers of PAP devices are increasingly being put under pressure to produce cost-effective devices with technological advancements. The new sensor-driven technology from Superior Sensor Technology offers a solution. The new CP Series enhances device performance and reliability while bringing down production costs with its streamlined design.

In the future, it is likely that we will see further developments in this technology, with the market for sleep apnea devices, predicted to grow at a CAGR of 6.2% between 2021 and 2028.

Continue reading: Keeping Stem Cells Safe with Temperature Sensors.

References and Further Reading

Med-Tech News (2021) Dual low pressure sensor product for CPAP launched. [Online]. Available at: https://www.med-technews.com/news/latest-medtech-news/dual-low-pressure-sensor-product-for-cpap-launched/ 

Benjafield, A., et al (2019) Estimation of the global prevalence and burden of obstructive sleep apnoea: a literature-based analysis. The Lancet Respiratory Medicine, 7(8), pp.687-698. Available at: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanres/article/PIIS2213-2600(19)30198-5/fulltext

Punjabi, N., (2008) The Epidemiology of Adult Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Proceedings of the American Thoracic Society, 5(2), pp.136-143. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2645248/

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Sarah Moore

Written by

Sarah Moore

After studying Psychology and then Neuroscience, Sarah quickly found her enjoyment for researching and writing research papers; turning to a passion to connect ideas with people through writing.


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