Central and Complex Sleep Apnea

Understanding Central and Complex Sleep Apnea


SleepQuest can determine if you are suffering from central or complex sleep apnea. CSA, or central sleep apnea, is when you stop breathing due to the brain telling the diaphragm to stop breathing. Complex sleep apnea is when the use of positive pressure therapy (CPAP or Auto PAP) causes the patient to have central sleep apnea. Complex sleep apnea is best treated by a sophisticated device called an Auto Servo Ventilator (ASV) that ensures that the patient continues to breathe normally.

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So complex sleep apnea is when somebody has, on their diagnostic sleep study, obstructive sleep apnea. They need a diagnostic titration, to determine what type of device they need long term. They do the diagnostic titration, and what happens is these obstructive events turn into central events and pretty soon, they're having central sleep apnea. And if more than 50% of their events are central in nature, then they need this different class of device called the "auto-servo ventilator". So CSA, or central sleep apnea, is when you stop breathing, but it's not due to the obstruction. If we're measuring both the movement in the thorax and the movement in the abdomen, neither of them are moving. It has nothing to do with the obstructions. It's basically a neurological disorder where the brain is telling the diaphragm, "Hey, stop breathing." The way it's treated is you've got to regulate the breathing patterns, so it takes a more sophisticated device than regular autopap therapy. It takes a device that has what is called a "back up rate", so it's called "non-invasive ventilation". It's what they've done in the hospital for years and years. Now you can do it in the home. It works really well for central sleep apnea.


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