Tirzepatide Shows Promise for Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Obesity

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a condition where breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep. This can lead to serious health problems, including heart disease. People who are overweight or obese are more likely to develop OSA.

Tirzepatide is a medication being studied as a potential treatment for OSA. This study, funded by Eli Lilly, aimed to see if Tirzepatide could improve OSA and other health issues in people with moderate-to-severe OSA and obesity.

Study Design

Two large-scale studies were conducted. Both studies involved adults with moderate-to-severe OSA and obesity.

  • Trial 1: People who were not using a CPAP machine (a device that helps keep airways open during sleep) were included.
  • Trial 2: People who were already using a CPAP machine were included.

In both trials, participants were randomly assigned to receive either Tirzepatide or a placebo (inactive treatment) for 52 weeks. The main goal of the study was to see how much the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) changed over the study period. The AHI measures the number of breathing interruptions per hour of sleep.

Secondary goals included changes in body weight, sleep quality, blood pressure, and inflammatory markers.

Study Results

At the beginning of the study, participants had an average AHI of around 50 events per hour and a high body mass index (BMI).

  • AHI: Compared to placebo, Tirzepatide significantly reduced AHI in both trials. This suggests that Tirzepatide may improve OSA severity.
  • Weight Loss: Participants taking Tirzepatide lost significantly more weight than those on placebo.
  • Other Improvements: Tirzepatide also led to improvements in sleep quality, blood pressure, and inflammatory markers compared to placebo. The most common side effects were gastrointestinal issues, which were mostly mild to moderate.


This study suggests that Tirzepatide may be a safe and effective treatment for moderate-to-severe OSA in people with obesity. It improved AHI, weight loss, sleep quality, and other health markers.

Posted June 2024.

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