Getting a good night's sleep is more important than ever before -- a new study finds even a moderate sleep apnea increases your risk of a deadly heart attack in your sleep.
According to the American College of Cardiology, 12 million Americans have sleep apnea. Men get it more than women, and experts believe it will only get worse as obesity rates go up.
Weight loss can help. But specialists just about an hour from Tampa Bay are using robots to operate deep inside the throat.
"It's life-changing. It literally was life-changing," says Michael Johnson, who suffers from Sleep Apnea.
The 43-year-old tried CPAP machines, masks, and other remedies for more than four years; none seemed to work. Michael's severe sleep apnea led him to Florida Hospital in Orlando.
"For somebody with severe sleep apnea symptoms, it can be debilitating," says Dr. Jeffrey Lehman.
His plan was to remove Michael's lingual tonsil. Traditionally, it's a complex surgery, but Michael qualified for something new: a Trans Oral Robotic Lingual Tonsillectomy.
The surgery is done with the help of a robotic controlled system -- called the DaVinci -- to access the hard-to-reach tonsil in the back of the throat.
"Anything where we can offer a less invasive form of therapy, I would say that's a pretty big breakthrough," explains Dr. Lehman. "We can address an area of the airway that was not as well addressed in the past and get what seem to be really promising early results."
Airways now open, Michael says a good night's sleep is no longer a dream.
"Almost immediately, even when I was in recovery, I could feel almost like I came off a mountain, getting sort of a buzz because you're getting so much more oxygen. And I could literally feel that immediately."
FOR MORE INFORMATION: http://www.entorlando.com/
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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