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It feels good to be able to help others

Kurt-Arne Rosen

Hundreds of thousands of swedes suffer from sleep apnea and when Kurt-Arne Rosén had the opportunity to participate in a clinical study he did not hesitate.

According to himself, Kurt-Arne Rosén is a 59-year-old man with his roots in Östergötland, two grown up children and a wife who thinks that he snores too much.

- When I was doing military service, I got pillows thrown at me in the dormitory, so the problem with snoring has probably been there since I was a kid.

Answered an advertisment in the local paper

It was his wife Marita who saw an advertisement in Göteborgsposten that called for participants to a clinical study on sleep apnea, a disorder characterized by pauses of breathing during sleep. People affected by sleep apnea often suffer from snoring, and the pauses of breathing disturbs sleep and causes tiredness.

- In the advertisement there was brief information about the study, the name of the principal investigator and a telephone number to the research nurse. I called her and made a short interview over the phone. After a week I was called to a longer interview at Sahlgrenska. Nurses and researchers were present and I received more information about the study and reading material to study at home.

Kurt-Arne was told that the researchers wanted to investigate a substance previously used as a sleeping remedy for children. If the substance could also relieve sleep apnea, hundreds of thousands of Swedes might be able to get help and he did not hesitate to participate.

- First, I hoped that it could cure my own sleep apnea, but I also wanted to participate and contribute in order for many other people to benefit from the results.

Four nights in the sleep clinic

During the study, Kurt-Arne and the other study participants slept at the sleep lab for four nights, two nights at a time on two different occasions. Before the first night, it took almost two hours to take all necessary samples and put on electrodes.

- I arrived at the clinic around six o’clock in the evening, had a cup of coffee, and then the preparations began. I had electrodes and adhesives everywhere, and it was a bit hard to get rid of everything afterwards. I managed to fall asleep for a little while, but was quite tired at work the following day and it took some effort to go back and sleep for one more night at the sleep lab.

Kurt-Arne says that lights were out for the night around half past ten, and the study participants then slept until six o’clock the next morning. After the first two nights, study participants received either the active substance or placebo. Kurt-Arne has not learned what treatment he received, but noticed a tingling sensation in his hand while playing golf.

- The doctor did not mention this as a possible side effect of the drug, but I have not felt the tingling either before or after the study so I have my suspicions.

Two weeks after the first two nights at the sleep lab, the study participants were called back to the clinic. Blood pressure and pulse were checked and the dose of the active substance was increased. After a total of four weeks, the participants slept for another two nights at the clinic.

- On the fourth night, it only took 45 minutes to fix all samples and electrodes.

After the fourth night, treatment was terminated and the study participants returned all remaining tablets.

- A few weeks later I had a follow-up interview with the principal investigator and he reviewed my findings. He could see that I had as many as 93 pauses of breathing per night. No wonder I am often tired, I never get into deep sleep! At the same time, it is hard to assess your own alertness when you have nothing to compare with.

Positive health effects

It turned out that Kurt-Arne’s problems with sleep apnea were too severe for the study substance to have an effect.

- That was a disappointment of course. But I got a referral to a clinic in Borås and I now have a new type of sleeping ask that is both quieter and smoother than the one I have had for more than ten years.

- I addition, I got a thorough review of my health and I lost two kilos. I am more aware of the problems with sleep apnea now and I actually feel a little worried about how bad sleep affects my body and my health.

Kurt-Arne has positive experiences from being a study participant and he would consider doing it again.

- I am lucky enough to work in central Gothenburg and I have a flexible employer, it would be more difficult for someone working as a cashier or far away from the clinic. Many of my colleagues are blood donors and maybe people in my workplace are more likely to contribute to public welfare in general. It feels good to be able to help others and if a relevant study turns up, maybe I will sign up!