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Itamar Medical’s sleep apnea device wins US National Sleep Foundation award

Device developed by the Caesarea-based firm measures the flow of blood in the arteries and sets off an alarm when heart is working too hard

Shoshanna Solomon is The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

Itamar Medical's WatchPAT ONE in action (Courtesy)
Itamar Medical's WatchPAT ONE in action (Courtesy)

The US’s National Sleep Foundation (NSF) has chosen Israel’s Itamar Medical Ltd. as the winner of its 2020 SleepTech Award, which recognizes the year’s most innovative achievement in sleep technology.

The Caesarea, Israel-based firm, which has shares listed on the Nasdaq and the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, develops non-invasive medical devices and solutions to help in the diagnosis of respiratory sleep disorders. The company describes its key product, the WatchPAT ONE device, as the first and only disposable home sleep apnea test that connects to a smartphone app and easily transmits sleep data for review.

“We congratulate Itamar Medical for winning our 2020 SleepTech Award by further innovating their product to help advance sleep technology. Their response to customer insights and needs is particularly relevant this year in the effort to promote better sleep health during a pandemic,” said John Lopos, CEO of NSF in a statement.

The NSF SleepTech Award is given annually to support innovation in technology products that can improve sleep health. NSF has no financial relationship with the 2020 SleepTech Award winner, the NSF statement said.

Sleep apnea is a condition in which an individual has trouble breathing while asleep, with patients suffering from conditions ranging from short, shallow breathing to gasping and wheezing during sleep to going for long seconds or even minutes without drawing a breath. The body needs oxygen 24 hours a day, and the body’s autonomic nervous system generally takes care of breathing while an individual is asleep. When the body is denied a sufficient measure of oxygen, the results can include daytime fatigue, heavy snoring, and liver and heart problems.

The WatchPAT measures the flow of blood in the arteries to determine how hard the heart is working during sleep, and sets off an alarm when blood flow increases to a level that indicates that the heart is overworking as an individual sleeps, indicating the presence and degree of sleep apnea based on algorithms developed by the company.

If there is a problem, the appropriate care provider is alerted, and intervention plans can be made to prevent the further development of the disease. The product is commercially available in the US, Japan, and Europe.

“Sleep apnea is serious disease with serious consequences. It hurts hearts and undermines the effective treatment of cardiovascular disease which costs the healthcare system billions of dollars,” said Gilad Glick, CEO of Itamar Medical, adding that the company is “honored and delighted” to get the award.

The firm’s technology allows for the diagnosis and management of this condition without the patient needing to leave their homes, he said.

The two semifinalists were US firms EnsoData, whose sleep scoring AI technology reads waveforms to diagnose, monitor, and treat patients; and Bryte, which has developed a “restorative bed” that measures, learns, tests, and applies what sleepers need to improve their sleep.

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