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A new medical startup from Dalhousie University PhD graduate Hamed Hanafi plans to use artificial intelligence to treat sleep apnea.

The condition causes patients to intermittently stop breathing in their sleep. It is usually treated with Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, or “CPAP,” machines that force air into the lungs to restart the respiratory process.

Hanafi’s company, NovaResp, is developing a combined hardware and software solution that can be attached to any CPAP machine to improve its efficacy.

“We have a proprietary add-on for these machines that would be able to predict an obstruction that’s going to happen and not let it happen,” said Hanafi in an interview.

Sleep apnea raises a person’s risk of heart attacks, strokes and other medical problems. In 2017, about 6.4 percent of Canadians had been diagnosed with it and nearly a third of the population was at risk, according to Statistics Canada.