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Canadians with sleep apnea frustrated over CPAP machine recall

A CPAP machine is shown in an image from Shutterstock.com A CPAP machine is shown in an image from Shutterstock.com
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TORONTO -

An estimated two million Canadians suffer from sleep apnea and those who use a Philips brand machine to help them sleep are frustrated that they could have to wait up to a year for repairs or replacement.

“I was scared and I’m still scared using it,” Terry Stanford, of Ennismore, Ont. told CTV News Toronto.

Philips issued a voluntary recall this past June citing a concern that a foam used in their machines could be toxic and break down into small particles and be breathed in by the user.

Some of the possible health risks include headache, irritation, inflammation, respiratory issues and possible toxic and carcinogenic effects.

“I was scared and I quit using it immediately and I had some rough nights — five in a row," Stanford said.

Sleep apnea is when your breathing starts and stops throughout the night, sometimes hundreds of times, which is hard on your lungs and heart and can lead to health problems.

A Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) device provides a steady flow of air to help users get a good night's sleep.

There are four million Philips CPAP machines, as well BiLevel Positive Airway Pressure (BiLevel Pap) devices and Mechanical Ventilators, worldwide, so Philips said it could take up to a year to repair or replace them all.

Stanford has been using her CPAP machine for almost four years.

“My husband complained that I was snoring all the time so I went to the doctor and went and got the sleep study done," she said, added that “it helps [her] sleep better. I don't wake up tired. I don't want to sleep during the day."

The recall has put many users in a difficult position, as some may decide to stop using the device because of the recall or continue to use it and wait for a replacement which could take up to a year.

In a statement on its website, Philips said, “We fully understand and regret the impact that this is having on patients” and added, “our priority is to replace the foam in all the affected devices either by repair or replacement with like devices with the new foam.”

Stanford is hoping she can get her replacement before a year is up.

“It's not just for me, it's for everybody. It's life-threatening and it's got cancer possibilities, so it's not just me — everyone should have it replaced immediately, not in 12 months’ time."

Users are advised to go to the Philips website for more information.

Philips continues to recommend that affected patients follow the advice of their physicians, as they are most familiar with a patient’s medical history. To aid the clinician in the consultation with the patient, Philips has made clinical information available.

Philips added it is producing repair kits and replacement devices in large quantities and has increased the production capacity of repair kits and replacement devices in the third quarter of 2021 to 55,000 per week, aiming to further increase that capacity to 80,000 units per week in the fourth quarter of 2021.

CPAP machines range in price from $500 dollars to over $2,000, but due to the recall, supplies are low. 

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