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Eli Lilly’s New Trial Demonstrates Mounjaro’s Benefits for Sleep Apnea

Eli Lilly’s latest trial reveals that Zepbound and Mounjaro could be game-changers for people struggling with a condition that disrupts breathing during sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea, the most common form, often coincides with obesity—a concern for approximately 70% of those affected. Considering the World Health Organization’s finding that over a billion people worldwide face obesity, these findings could have widespread implications.

Exciting updates from a phase 3 clinical trial suggest that tirzepatide—the active component in both the type 2 diabetes medication Mounjaro pen and the weight loss treatment Zepbound—significantly eases the severity of symptoms for adults suffering from both obesity and obstructive sleep apnea. Impressively, it reduces symptom severity by almost two-thirds. It’s important to note, though, that these promising findings are awaiting publication in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

Significant Reduction in Sleep Apnea Symptoms

Eli Lilly and Company — recently revealed the SURMOUNT-OSA clinical trials, which focused on tirzepatide’s potential to alleviate symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea. This trial brought together 469 participants from diverse nations, including the United States, Brazil, China, Australia, Germany, and four others, all of whom suffered from moderate to severe sleep apnea and obesity.

Interestingly, the study was split into two segments. SURMOUNT-OSA Study 1 involved participants who, for various reasons, did not use or could not use positive airway pressure (PAP) therapy, a common treatment for sleep apnea. Meanwhile, SURMOUNT-OSA Study 2 looked at those who were currently using PAP therapy and planned to continue throughout the trial. This dual approach allowed researchers to assess tirzepatide’s effectiveness across different scenarios, providing a comprehensive view of its potential benefits.

In both segments of the study, participants were given either tirzepatide or a placebo for a full year. The results were quite revealing. Those who received tirzepatide injections saw a significant drop in their apnea-hypopnea index—a measure used to determine the severity of the condition by counting the interruptions in breathing during sleep. Moreover, an intriguing outcome of the study was the noticeable weight loss observed among the tirzepatide users. Participants who were administered tirzepatide experienced an average weight reduction of about 20%.

Link Between Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Obesity

Obstructive sleep apnea is closely linked with obesity, often occurring alongside it. Dr. Monique May, a board-certified family physician with Aeroflow Sleep who wasn’t involved in the clinical trial, sheds light on this condition. She describes obstructive sleep apnea as a sleep disorder where the upper airway becomes blocked or collapses, leading to repeated interruptions in breathing during the night. Dr. May points out that the blockage can stem from several factors more prevalent in individuals with obesity, such as a thicker tongue, a larger neck, or extra fatty tissue in the upper airway. This condition doesn’t just disrupt sleep; it significantly affects the overall quality of life, making it hard for those affected to enjoy a restful night’s sleep.

Dr. Mir Ali, a bariatric surgeon & medical director in Fountain Valley, California, at MemorialCare Surgical Weight Loss Center, offers further insights into why obesity often accompanies obstructive sleep apnea. He explains that excess fat deposits around the airways can narrow them and make the surrounding tissues softer. This increases the likelihood of the airways collapsing during sleep, making it difficult to breathe. Note that Dr. Ali was not involved in the clinical trial.

Moreover, the risks associated with obstructive sleep apnea extend beyond disturbed sleep. Research indicates that this condition can heighten the possibility of many serious health issues, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, mood disorders, and even cancer. These potential complications underscore the importance of effectively addressing and managing obstructive sleep apnea.

Dr. Seth Kipnis, who serves as the medical director of bariatric and robotic surgery in New Jersey at Hackensack Meridian Jersey Shore University Medical Center, adds an important perspective to our understanding of obstructive sleep apnea and its broader health implications. He points out that low oxygen levels during sleep—a common issue in sleep apnea—can trigger a host of serious conditions. 

“Low oxygen at night can lead to heart disease, strokes, heart attacks, & high blood pressure. It also causes daytime fatigue which can disrupt your eating habits, often leading to weight gain,” explains Dr. Kipnis, who was not involved in the clinical trial. This creates a harmful cycle where poor sleep contributes to obesity, and obesity, in turn, exacerbates sleep issues. However, there’s a silver lining. He also emphasizes that significant, sustained weight loss can break this cycle, improving both sleep quality and overall health. You should also consider mounjaro risks and side effects while using it for this condition.

How Does Weight Loss Improve Sleep Apnea?

Dr. Mir Ali wasn’t surprised by the promising results of Eli Lilly’s clinical trial. He regularly observes similar outcomes in patients after weight loss surgery. “The improvement in sleep apnea isn’t directly due to the medication,” he points out. “Rather, it’s a beneficial side effect of losing weight. Any form of weight loss generally helps reduce the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea.” Echoing this sentiment, Kipnis notes, “It’s what we expect. Effective obesity treatments tend to improve all related health issues, including sleep apnea.”

Dr. Monique May emphasizes the critical need for ongoing research to further reduce sleep apnea severity in those with obesity. “With around 40 million people currently affected by obstructive sleep apnea, and numbers likely to increase alongside obesity rates, it’s crucial to develop non-surgical options,” she states. These options could provide alternatives to bariatric surgery for weight loss and surgeries like uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, which includes removing excess tissue in the throat to treat sleep apnea.

Should Weight Loss Drugs Be Prescribed for Sleep Apnea?

When discussing the next steps for research on weight loss drugs and sleep apnea, Dr. Monique May expressed concern about the small size of the study’s participant group. “Given the large number of people affected in the U.S. alone, I would have expected it to be easier to find more participants,” she remarked. She also hopes future studies will look at shorter time frames, like six weeks, three months, or up to six months, to gather data more rapidly. Additionally, Dr. May suggests that similar studies be conducted by independent researchers not affiliated with the drug companies, and she is particularly interested in a detailed analysis of how different ethnic groups of men respond to the treatment.

Dr. Mir Ali is curious about how quickly these medications can reduce symptoms of sleep apnea compared to other weight loss methods. “We often see quick improvement after surgical weight loss,” he notes. “It would be interesting to see how the timeline compares with medication.” Kipnis emphasizes the broader implications of this research for health coverage. He believes that it’s crucial to demonstrate to Medicare and insurance providers that treatments for obesity, which have the potential to alleviate associated conditions like sleep apnea, should consistently be covered. You may buy Mounjaro from Canada affordably and conveniently. 


As we explore the interconnections between obesity, obstructive sleep apnea, and the potential of innovative treatments like Zepbound and Mounjaro, it’s clear that tackling these issues requires a multifaceted approach. The promising results from Eli Lilly’s clinical trials highlight the importance of ongoing research and the development of non-surgical treatment options that can improve the quality of life for millions. 

As the medical community strives to understand and treat these complex conditions more effectively, the involvement of diverse participant groups and independent studies will be key. Moreover, it’s crucial for health coverage providers to recognize the significance of supporting treatments that address not only obesity but also its related health complications.

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