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Central Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a disorder where breathing is repeatedly interrupted while asleep. Sleep apnea is classified as either Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) or Central Sleep Apnea (CSA).

CSA is a form of sleep apnea that is less common and less studied than OSA. Whereas OSA results from a blockage of the upper airway, CSA occurs when the brain fails to send appropriate signals to the breathing muscles to stimulate a regular breathing pattern.1

Central Sleep Apnea vs Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Symptoms of Central Sleep Apnea

Central Sleep Apnea has symptoms that are both long term and short term.
Symptoms of central sleep apnea include:2-3

stick figure walking tired because of central sleep apnea

Chronic fatigue

stick figure asleep at desk because of central sleep apnea

Excessive daytime sleepiness

outline of a human head with a brain to show brain fog is a symptom of central sleep apnea

Brain fog / cognitive impairment

outline of person in bed to show inability to fall asleep with central sleep apnea

Inability to fall asleep
or get restful sleep

Many patients with CSA also have heart disease, especially heart failure.4 Within this population, patients with CSA are at increased risk for hospitalizations and even death.5,6

Central sleep apnea has a number of known associations:2

  • Cardiac disorders including Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) and Atrial Fibrillation (AFib)
  • High altitude
  • Opioids
  • Idiopathic central sleep apnea
  • Other medical conditions (stroke, brainstem/spinal cord disorders)

Diagnosing CSA

CSA is diagnosed via a home or in-lab sleep study, that is prescribed by a physician to determine if a patient has sleep apnea and if their primary type of apnea is central or obstructive.

Home Sleep Apnea Test
(HSAT, Polygram, PG)

Completed at home

Measures oxygen, air flow and movement of the chest and abdomen*

In-Lab Sleep Study
(Polysomnogram, PSG)

Assesses sleep stage and other sleep disorders in addition to sleep apnea

Requires overnight monitoring in a sleep lab

During the sleep study, the number of apnea and hypopnea events per hour are counted and reported as the Apnea Hypopnea Index (AHI), the most common measure of severity of sleep apnea.