Weight loss drug could help treat sleep apnea: Study

A popular weight loss drug may be able to assist in the treatment of sleep apnea, a new study found.

Tirzepatide, the medicine found in the drug Zepbound and the obesity drug Mounjaro, reduced the severity of sleep apnea, a disorder that causes breathing to be interrupted, among other measures in patients who had obesity and took the medication for a year.

The study, published Friday in the New England Journal of Medicine, was conducted in two controlled trials involving adults with moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea and obesity. The study found that tirzepatide reduced the apnea-hypopnea index, body weight, blood pressure and improved sleep, among other things.

Patients who took the drug had their number of sleep apnea episodes reduced by about half to nearly 60 percent compared to just 10 percent who received a placebo.

Those who received the drug also lost about 18 percent to 20 percent of their body weight and showed other improvements, per the study.

Eli Lilly and Co. is the drug’s maker and paid for the research, The Associated Press reported.

The company has asked the Food and Drug Administration to expand the use of the drug to be able to treat moderate to severe sleep apnea and a decision could come by the end of the year. An outside expert warned that more research will be necessary if it could be a sole treatment for sleep apnea, per the AP.

The news wire also noted an estimated 20 million Americans are affected by sleep apnea, and the disorder can cause short-term issues like snoring, brain fog and daytime sleepiness and long-term issues like heart disease, dementia and death.

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