A dream job from the start

David H. Winslow Jr., M.D., has been a leader in the sleep medicine community for decades — passing his expertise to the next generation.

Sleep apnea was first diagnosed in 1965. For years, treatment was a tracheostomy, a surgery to bypass the upper airway obstruction. In the 1980s, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) took over as the leading treatment for a disorder that impacts just about every facet of life. In the late 1970s, sleep science gained momentum and continues today with new innovations, techniques and goals.

What a difference 40 years makes — especially when it comes to sleep medicine.

When David H. Winslow Jr., M.D., was a pulmonology resident in those early days of CPAP machines, he read an article about sleep apnea. Not long after, he saw a patient who presented with signs of right-sided heart failure.

“The man was heavy, and he had edema,” Dr. Winslow said. “I put a nasal trumpet in and the next day, he felt better. I started to put things together — the sleep apnea piece I’d read and the patient in my exam room. That case really piqued my interest.”

That interest led to a long career helping patients who needed treatment for sleep disorders. Along the way, Dr. Winslow has shared his expertise with other sleep specialists at Norton Healthcare, including Kevin K. Trice, M.D., sleep medicine physician with Norton Pulmonary Specialists and Norton Sleep Centers.

40 years of sleep science

“When we first started to conduct sleep studies, the patient had to be in the laboratory overnight with us and the equipment,” Dr. Winslow said. “The machine we hooked people up to is called a polysomnogram.”

The machine is similar to a polygraph machine, in that it records such data as heart rate, but a polysomnogram also gathers other data: sleep stage, respiration and more.

“The old polysomnographs were done on paper by a series of pens,” Dr. Winslow said. “More than once, we had quite a mess with that ink.”

These days, polysomnography can be done in a sleep lab or at home with a small, portable machine that records data and transmits it back to the physician’s office for evaluation.

The CPAP machine has become smaller, more comfortable and easier to use. New drugs have been developed. New disorders have been categorized, and there is even more on the horizon.

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“I think we are moving into the golden age of sleep,” said Dr. Winslow. “We have come so far in understanding how sleep happens, how it affects us and what we can do to about it.”

The future of sleep medicine in the region

Dr. Trice is a Louisville native who returned home after years practicing in places like Boston, Massachusetts, New York City and Cleveland, Ohio.

Dr. Trice is ready to carry Dr. Winslow’s pioneering sleep medicine work into the 21st century. New technology is on the rise — with devices such as a hypoglossal nerve stimulator that prompts the airway to open during sleep via a surgically implanted device.

“We are going to see the use of artificial intelligence used more to predict and treat before we have a serious issue,” Dr. Trice said.

This includes using physiological or anthropometric data gathered from smartphones combined with CAT scan images, for example.

As Dr. Trice looks to innovate with advanced technology that can help improve the lives of patients who experience sleep disorders, he also has embraced the legacy of Dr. Winslow’s work.

“Dr. Winslow has been a force of nature when it comes to sleep science, pulmonary medicine, innovation and research,” Dr. Trice said. “It’s an honor.”

Norton Sleep Centers specialize in diagnosing sleep disorders and giving patients a personalized treatment plan. The centers are accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and are staffed with fellowship-trained and board-certified physicians and sleep technologists who are experienced in diagnosing and treating a variety of sleep disorders.

“Sleep in Kentucky is darn good because of those folks who got in at the start of sleep medicine science,” Dr. Winslow said. “I feel very good about leaving the state of sleep in Kentucky with Dr. Trice.”

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