Guest: Dr. Chris Hart
Presenter: Tabetha Moreto
Guest Bio: Dr. Chris Hart is the Clinical Director of Oventus Medical Ltd., a Brisbane-based, medical device company established in 2012. Prior to establishing Oventus, Chris owned and managed a multi-site national dental practice, training institute and management consultancy which he sold to private equity investors. He now works full time as the Oventus Clinical Director. Graduating from The University of Queensland in 1998 with a Bachelor of Dental Science with Honours and a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry, he also studied at Cambridge University and graduated in 1999 with a Master of Philosophy in Biomedical Science. Chris also acts as an adviser to various bodies within the dental industry as well as the healthcare sector more broadly on the commercial aspects of health care delivery.
Segment Overview: In this segment, Dr. Chris Hart, Clinical Director of Oventus Medical Ltd. joins the program to discuss about O2VentTM, a range of products from his company designed to help people suffering from sleep apnoea (snoring problems). He also explains in detail what is sleep apnoea, the symptoms and the different treatments available for it.
Tabetha Moreto: Hello everyone, welcome to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host for today, Tabetha Moreto. Our guest today is Dr. Chris Hart, Clinical Director of Oventus. It’s a Brisbane-based, medical device company established in 2012. Today we are going to talk about O2Vent™, a range of products designed for those who have problems with snoring. Without further ado, welcome to the show Chris. It’s very nice to have you here.
Dr. Chris Hart: Thank you Tabetha, very nice to be on the show. I appreciate you taking the time to talk to me.
T: Yes, my pleasure. Chris, please tell the audience more about yourself and the nature of your work.
H: Sure. By trade, I’m a dentist. I have been working in the Dental Sleep Medicine field for a bit over a decade and I’m also a severe sleep apnoea patient and a chronic snorer. In this professional capacity, I was treating patients to stop snoring and sleep apnoea with mouth guards. For a lot of patients they work but for other patients they don’t. The other option is using CPAP or continuous positive air pressure with the mask and O generator to treat sleep apnoea and snoring and many patients couldn’t tolerate that. A lot of desperation, I developed a new device for myself and the reason being is I couldn’t breathe that well through my nose and at the back of my throat was collapsing. I actually got some slide rejected tubes and I cut them up and I fashioned them into a mouth guard and more or less guard as a second nose that basically cured my snoring. Sort of set me up from a pathway of developing the O2Vent line of products in conjunction with two of our other founders, Marcus Slater who is a laboratory technician who helped me build the original devices and Neil Anderson, our CEO who took what was a fairly crude product and took it to the CSIRO where we developed some proprietary software and we started 3D printing the devices in titanium. So that, was a significant breakthrough for us. It made the devices commercial and increased the efficacy and wearability of the devices as well. Basically it’s a case of physician to heal ourselves, I had a problem, solved it for me and since then we’ve delivered thousands of these devices around Australia and starting to treat patients within North America as well.
T: That’s fantastic. Can you tell us why is this product different from others?
H: We have two main treatments as I mentioned. We have mouth guards that bring that jaw forward to clear the tongue from falling back and then we have masks that we pump air thru inflate the air way. The mouth guards while they are comfortable to wear they often don’t get a desired result, they’re not effectatious enough. And CPAP while at works from most people, very difficult to tolerate and around half of patients abandon treatment at the end of the first year. The difference that we have is that within the mouth guard we have a three dimensional hollow airway and that airway actually is a second nose. It allows the air to flow through the mouth guard, straight to the back of the throat and it enclose the airways. The lower jaw is in stable position, the tongue is where it should be and we’re letting the air flow below the nose and soft palate, around the tongue and into the back of the throat completely unobstructed. So the core technology is actually our 3D airway which we would call second nose, we’re giving the patients a second nose to breathe thru. That’s increasing efficacy for the mouth guard. For many patients, there’s many that don’t need CPAP as much anymore particularly for those that are struggling to use CPAP. At the same time, this airway, we can incorporate into a CPAP interface so instead of the needing a mask if the patients need CPAP, we can use the mouth guard as a CPAP interface. That’s not in market yet, still in clinical trials, that will be available towards the end of this year. But the key point of difference is this O2vent airway that we incorporate into all of our devices.
T: That’s good to hear. Let’s talk about sleep apnoea. What is this condition and what are the symptoms?
H: Sleep apnoea is where a patient regardless stop breathing or their breathing slows down during sleep and it can happen multiple times an hour. It can occur because patients have a lost of muscle tone in their throat, it can also be worsen by nasal congestion or blocked nose and also long flappy tissues at the back of the mouth such as a soft palate which is your little boxing bag there. What happens is when the breathing stops, the oxygen levels fall dramatically or even before that happens, the air that reduce flow in the airway it tells the brain that you’re not breathing properly, wake up. So patients have reduce oxygen levels and they end up they wake up multiple times through the night. Consequently in the morning patients can wake up feeling extremely tired and they can have a poor cognitive function and concentration. They can lose productivity during the day and they dramatically increase risk of a road or transport accident or workplace health and safety issues. As well as having reductions in productivity, in the short term it can be very harmful to a patient and obviously their bed pattern, it can be interrupted as well because chronic snoring is very highly and tightly correlated to sleep apnoea. That can be a huge social problem causing issues within households. In the long term, these breathing interruptions lead to low oxygen levels which can then lead to a cardiovascular risk so increased risk of heart attack, cause stroke. It can lead to hypertension, increases blood pressure. Diabetes is closely related to sleep apnoea as well as obesity and depression. It does have some very serious long term health effect as well as some short term effects on heart health and wellbeing and productivity and relationships.
T: Thank you so much Chris for explaining about that. Let’s talk about treatment. Is there any treatment or medication someone can take with this condition?
H: The main forms of treatment are CPAP (continuous positive air pressure) where we pump the air to the airway through a mask to inflate it which is very effective but not often well tolerated. Then we also have mouth guards to draw the jaw forward which will deal with the tongue obstruction but won’t too much of this nasal congestion or a soft palate collapse, the back of the throat collapsing and above the tongue level as well from the side. You can have surgery which does have some success and it’s indicated in some cases obviously some more morbidity associated with that. There are some medications, it’s been shown in clinical trials although not commercially available that can improve the situation as well. If you look at the triage of patient care, it generally starts with CPAP because it is the most effective and if someone can’t tolerate CPAP then a mouth guard is the next stage of treatment or surgery and CPAP. They’re the mainstay treatment, obviously weight loss and behavioral management, sleeping on your side and these types of things can also help. From our point of view, we’re trying to help those patients that can’t tolerate CPAP and also the mouth guard are not effective enough for them. The other one we make a mouth guard a more effective particularly if they have a blocked nose or increased issue in the upper airway above the tongue and because we can bypass those issues whilst at the time stabilizing the tongue. In the CPAP in the future we have to be able to offer those patients masks for easy PAP and very low pressure, so they deal with the issues with current treatment options.
T: That good to know. Chris I would love to talk to you more but we’re running out of time. Before we go, what is your main takeaway message to all of our listeners out there?
H: For all of those patients that are struggling with current treatment, they have done all these. We have another treatment option for you. I think we can help a lot of those patients get back into care and our clinical data are very showing that around about 50% of patients are getting a dramatic benefit from this technology. Whether it’s in the mouth guard or whether as part of the CPAP treatment or CPAP interface. There’s a lot of hope for about half of patients that are currently struggling with treatment.
T: Excellent message. For those who want to purchase these devises, how can they do that?
H: They can get aware in our website which is oventus.com.au. We have contact details there for our office, also for the clinicians that have a bit of technology around Australia. They can also give us a call on 1300-533-159, more in information plus more information on the technologies available on our website at oventus.com.au
T: Excellent. Thank you so much Chris for coming on the show today.
H: My pleasure. Thank you Tabetha. I appreciate you having me on the show.
T: And that was Dr. Chris Hart. We just have been talking about O2Vent™, a range of products designed by his company for those people who have problems with snoring. If you like this interview, transcripts and archives are available at www.hpr.fm. We are on all major social media platforms so don’t forget to follow, like and subscribe. Show us some love by subscribing to our HPR Youtube channel. We’re also available for download on SoundCloud and itunes. I’m Tabetha Moreto and you’re listening to Health Professional Radio.