This Semaglutide Maker Says Patients With Sleep Apnea on the Weight-Loss Drug Are Seeing Majorly Improved Sleep

We have affiliate relationships where we are paid a commission on sales through some of our links. See our disclosures.
stepping on a scale

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is perhaps one of the most significant and challenging sleep health issues of our time. Today, drugmaker Eli Lilly reported promising results in the treatment of OSA. The company released data that showed that its GLP-1 drug, Tirzepatide, reduced irregular breathing in OSA patients.

As part of a two-part trial on the effectiveness of the drugs, patients were given Tirzepatide, which is the active ingredient in Lilly’s Mounjaro and Zepbound. Mounjaro is used in the treatment of Type 2 Diabetes, and Zepbound is used to help in weight loss for patients battling obesity. In the first stage of the trial, patients who received Tirzepatide showed a 55 percent improvement in OSA symptoms when compared to the five percent improvement for those patients who received a placebo.

In the second stage of the trial, Tirzepatide was used in conjunction with Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP), the current treatment most frequently used for OSA patients. The results showed a 62.8 percent decrease in irregular breathing for patients.

In addition to improving OSA symptoms, researchers monitored participants for any improvements in blood pressure. Those results have not yet been released. In addition, those who took the drug as part of the study lost 18 percent of their body weight, compared to the placebo group who lost just over one percent. In the second part of the study, participants taking the drug lost just over 20 percent, compared to just 2.3 percent on the placebo.

The company is looking to apply for approval from the FDA to broaden the use of the drug for inclusion in the treatment of OSA. If approved, the treatment could be covered by Medicare in the future.

According to the National Council of Aging, obstructive sleep apnea affects nearly 39 million Americans, with snoring being the most common symptom. The condition is also known to cause irregular breathing while sleeping, and when left untreated, can lead to heart and kidney conditions. As you age, your risk of developing OSA increases. Being male or overweight can also increase the risks for the disease.

Zepbound, one of the drugs containing Tirzepatide, was FDA-approved in November for weight loss uses, for those who qualified as obese or overweight and also had at least one weight-related condition, such as high cholesterol. The medicine is intended to be used as a tool alongside increased physical activity and a reduced calorie diet as well.

According to CNN, Eli Lilly will be evaluating the results even further beyond this preliminary report, and will be presenting details in June at the American Diabetes Association meeting. (1)

Anyone considering using weight loss medication for any reason should first discuss any of your sleep concerns with your primary care provider so that you can be properly diagnosed and treated. To learn more about sleep apnea and read the latest information on the condition, check out Sleepopolis’ most recent guide on the condition.

  • 1. Christensen, Jen; “Weight loss drug Zepbound may help people with obstructive sleep apnea, drugmaker says,” CNN;; April 17, 2024.

Alexandra Frost

Alexandra Frost

Alexandra Frost is a Cincinnati-based freelance journalist, content marketing writer, copywriter, and editor focusing on health and wellness, parenting, real estate, business, education, and lifestyle. Away from the keyboard, Alex is also mom to her four sons under age 7, who keep things chaotic, fun, and interesting. For over a decade she has been helping publications and companies connect with readers and bring high-quality information and research to them in a relatable voice.  She has been published in the Washington Post, Huffington Post, Glamour, Shape, Today's Parent, Reader's Digest, Parents, Women's Health, and Insider.

Leave a Comment