Continuous positive air pressure (CPAP) therapy is impressively effective for treating obstructive sleep apnea, a condition that can lead to high blood pressure, increased chances of stroke, diabetes, and other health issues. But, while CPAP therapy works really well, it also has an incredibly poor rate of patient compliance. Very few, if any, patients are excited for a chance to wear a breathing mask over their face as they sleep at night. CPAP masks wrap around the patient’s head and are tightened in place with stretchy fabric to maintain a pressure seal. This is uncomfortable and can be claustrophobia-inducing for some. Patients often wake up with marks on their face, feeling like their face was worked with a plunger at night. A new way of delivering CPAP therapy will soon be available for many patients, one that avoids a mask altogether and avoids many of the unpleasant aspects that have resulted in low patient compliance.
The DreamPort Sleep Solution from Bleep, a North Carolina firm, was invented by Stuart Heatherington, the company’s Founder and CEO. It will soon be made available across the United States, hopefully helping to get more people to use CPAP machines. We had a chance to meet up with Heatherington and learn about the DreamPort, how it works and resolves common CPAP problems, and what to expect in the future.
Unlike traditional nasal CPAP masks, the DreamPort is simply not a mask. Instead it is a small, plastic device that is attached over the nostrils using adhesive tape. The tape, made by 3M, creates an airtight seal that lasts overnight and is then disposed of in the morning. The DreamPort does not replace a full face mask, but Heatherington and his team are working on one that does, and they already have a related patent.
Heatherington showed us how to put on the DreamPort, how it’s connected to any standard CPAP air tube, and how it’s removed in the morning. Having tried sleeping with a CPAP machine in the past, the experience of using the DreamPort is drastically different. There’s no adjusting the mask to fit the face, though there is the part of attaching two disposable short breathing tubes to the nostrils using sticky tape. It’s important to note that nothing is inserted into the nostrils, instead the attachments remaining stuck to the skin on the outside of the nose. Once these are on, a small plastic device that connects to the main air tube leading to the CPAP machine is clipped on. That’s all there’s to that and the user can go to sleep.
During the night, if one has to get up to use the bathroom, the air tube can be detached from the DreamPort device and reattached when back in bed. This is all intuitive and easy. In the morning, the device is disconnected from the tubes that contact with the nose, the sticky tape is pulled off, and the tubes with the tape are disposed of. The reusable part can be washed with soap and water, or inside a SoClean, just like traditional CPAP masks.
Our impression at first is that device is slightly goofy, but on the other hand typical CPAP breathing devices look like gas masks. Unlike CPAP masks, the DreamPort stays completely out of the way of the top of the nose and eyes, which means glasses can still be worn. We were curious about how well the sticky tape works, but Heatherington reassured us that it works consistently over night. It did seem quite strong, as removing it from the nose seemed to need a bit of force and may turn out to be painful for some people. Heatherington, having had put on the DreamPort on his nose, connected it to a common CPAP machine and showed how it works and maintains a proper pressure. It did that well and Heatherington even pulled on the DreamPort to demonstrate that it’s secure on the nose.
Overall, we feel that the DreamPort may cause a bit of a revolution in nasal CPAP therapy. It also seems somewhat surprising that large CPAP firms haven’t come up with Heatherington’s innovative solution. But many inventions feel obvious once someone smart gets a brilliant idea, and Heatherington’s is one of those.
The DreamPort is not yet available, but everything besides a final FDA clearance is already in place. Heatherington expects the FDA to provide the marketing clearance in the first quarter of this year, and for his company to make the DreamPort available for purchase around the third quarter.
Here’s a video of Heatherington showing off well the DreamPort actually connects to the nose compared to typical nasal CPAP masks:
More info can be found on the Bleep website…