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Every night without fail, Paul Blumstein straps on a mask that prevents him from repeatedly waking up, gasping for air.It's been two decades since doctors fully recognized that breathing that stops and starts during sleep is tied to a host of health issues, even early death, but there still isn't a treatment that most people find easy to use.Products range from a $350 restraint meant to discourage back sleeping to a $24,000 surgical implant that pushes the tongue forward with each breath.Sleep medicine is a relatively new field. The most rigorous studies are small or don't follow patients for longer than six months, said Dr. Alex Krist of Virginia Commonwealth University, who served on a federal guidelines panel that reviewed sleep apnea treatments before recommending against screening adults who have no symptoms.Researchers are now focused on how to get people to use a mask more faithfully and predicting who is likely to abandon it and could start instead with a dental device.
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