Inspire Medical Systems, the fast-growing Maple Grove company pioneering electric stimulation for sleep apnea, announced positive five-year clinical results for its implantable medical device at an industry conference.

In a presentation at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Foundation (AAO-HNSF), Inspire Medical announced that five years after implant, 80 percent of patients in its study were still using the device every night. The company-funded study documented a statistically significant reduction in snoring, and a significant reduction in severity of patients obstructive sleep apnea, a press release said.

Obstructive sleep apnea is a relatively common condition in which a person's airway collapses during sleep, waking the patient many times per night and causing loud snoring. Patients are often treated with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) system that keeps the airway open, which can be both effective and cheap. But adherence to the therapy can be challenging because CPAP requires the user to wear a device on their face that is attached to an air pump while sleeping.

Inspire Upper Airway Stimulation is a surgical alternative. The therapy uses mild current from a pacemaker-like device implanted under the skin to stimulate the hypoglossal nerve, which controls tongue movement and important airway muscles. The device comes with a handheld remote controller that can adjust the therapy.

The Food and Drug Administration-approved therapy is indicated for adults with moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea who don't get consistent benefit from CPAP therapy. A 2014 editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine noted that Inspire's positive early trial results came from carefully selected patients, and the system's higher cost compared to CPAP may be justifiable if it reduces risks of strokes or car crashes in patients who don't get good results from CPAP. More than 1,700 people worldwide have the device implanted.

Inc. Magazine recently named Inspire Medical Systems the fastest-growing company in Minnesota, with revenue of $16.4 million last year – which the magazine said was a 5,149 percent increase from the prior year.