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Effective Central Sleep Apnea Treatments Cheat Sheet (DRAFT) by [deleted]

This is a draft cheat sheet. It is a work in progress and is not finished yet.


Unlike sleep disorders that are easier to diagnose and unders­tand, central sleep apnea (CSA) can be baffling. CSA patients might not snore, may be at their ideal weight, and may have not had a history of sleep disorders yet still find themselves with the condition charac­terized by pauses in breathing many times during the night. Central sleep apnea is a neurol­ogical condit­ion—in other words, the brain is not sending the correct signals to the respir­atory system to keep breathing while the patient sleeps. Sometimes another medical condition causes CSA; sometimes, pain medication can lead to it; and sometimes, the apnea occurs for no known reason. Whatever the cause, treatments are available for central sleep apnea. Here five of the most effective ways to help the CSA patient:

Central Sleep Apnea Treatments

1. Treating the medical condition that is also causing central sleep apnea. Congestive heart failure or the aftermath of a stroke can interfere with night-time breathing and lead to CSA. The solution here is simple: Treat the heart failure or the stroke and the apnea will likely subside.
2. Cutting back or elimin­ating the use of opiods. Powerful pain medica­tions such as morphine, codeine and oxycodone can cause central sleep apnea. Reducing the dosage or not taking them altogether can help, but discussing this option with your doctor is important. Pain medica­tio­ns—help with pain, and trying to fix the apnea might not be worth additional suffering.
3. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). More commonly associated with obstru­ctive sleep apnea (OSA), a CPAP device can help CSA sufferers, partic­ularly those who are recovering from heart failure. With this treatment, the patient wears a mask that contin­uously delivers a constant pressure of air to the lungs, thus countering any inclin­ation the body might have to pause breathing.
4. Bilevel positive airway pressure (BPAP). Treatment used for OSA sufferers that can be effective for central sleep apnea patients. Similar to a CPAP mask, a BPAP device adjusts the amount of air delivered to the lungs depending on whether the patient is inhaling or exhaling.
5. Adaptive servo-­ven­til­ation (ASV). Yet another device that uses a mask, ASV goes one step further by contin­uously detecting and adjusting to the patient’s breathing needs and delivering the correct amount of oxygen. If the user is breathing fine, the device reduces the air it provides. It the patient’s breathing begins to pause, ASV increases the oxygen.

Apnea Basics

Sleep Apnea