abnormal breathing pattern can happen at any time, both day and night,
but it is the nighttime form that is considered as part of the larger
category known as sleep disordered breathing. In addition, Cheyne
Stokes breathing that occurs during the night is the form known to lead to other, potentially more
serious health problems.
an individual is suffering from this abnormal breathing pattern, their breathing rate goes up and down
in cycles, with each cycle normally lasting for somewhere between 30
seconds and two minutes. At the beginning of a cycle, the breathing
rate and depth will increase dramatically for a period of
This phenomenon of
increased breathing, known as a hyperpnea,
is then directly followed by a sudden decrescendo in breathing, which
may or may not end in a short apnea or total cessation of breathing,
usually lasting for somewhere between 10 and 30 seconds.
are actually two distinct types of this abnormal breathing
pattern: Cheyne Stokes
respiration (CSR) and periodic
difference between the two is whether or not the breathing cycles end
in an apnea. If some of these cycles result in a total stop of
breathing functions, then this disorder is recognized as CSR. However,
if the person's breathing functions don't totally stop at the end of a
cycle, then the person is diagnosed with periodic breathing.
cases of periodic breathing, the person's breathing rate still
becomes abnormally slow or shallow at the end of each cycle. These
episodes, known as hypopnea, are still quite dangerous for one's
health, but not considered to be nearly as much so as a full apnea.
reasons behind this increasing-decreasing pattern of breathing are
actually quite simple. At the end of a cycle, when the patient
experiences either an apnea or hypopnea, the rate of carbon dioxide
their bloodstream rises.
phenomenon, known as hypercapnia, then
triggers the body to start breathing rapidly (in some cases,
as the CO2 levels in the blood reach lower than normal levels due to
the hyperventilating, the body responds by slowing down breathing
patterns until they
reach a decrescendo resulting in either an apnea or
hypopnea, and thus starting the entire cycle over again.
Stokes and Central Sleep Apnea
Cheyne Stokes breathing occurs during the night, it is normally
thrown into the category of central sleep apnea. This category of
sleeping disorders refers to total
cessations of breath caused by some
other medical condition which interferes with the brain's ability to
properly control breathing functions.
all forms of central sleep apnea are a result of Cheyne Stokes, as
these apneas are often present without the crescendo-decrescendo
pattern of breathing associated with CSR. When a person
periodic breathing during sleep, this condition is often considered to
be a form of central sleep hypopnea, again caused by some other
underlying medical condition.
sleep apnea and hypopnea
are considered to be quite
serious sleeping disorders, and have been linked to a long list of
other potential health problems, the least of which is simple sleep
deprivation. In fact, almost all people suffering from either of these
two conditions report feelings of extreme
concentrating, and many other issues directly related to a
of Cheyne Stokes Respiration and Periodic Breathing
speaking, both CSR and periodic breathing are usually thought
to be a result of some
other underlying medical condition.
these abnormal breathing patterns are most commonly seen in patients
who have suffered a stroke, congenital heart failure, brain tumors, or
damage to their brain, spinal cord, or brain stem which affects the
brain's respiratory centers, located in the medulla oblongata at the
bottom of the brain stem.
addition, it could also be a result of
intake or carbon
monoxide poisoning, and is also present in
patients with toxic metabolic encephalopathy, a degenerative
neurological disorder caused by exposure to certain organic toxins.
it seems that these aren't the only possible causes, as both
of these conditions can also be a result of sudden, acute exposure to
extremely high altitudes,
usually over 15,000 feet above sea level. In
cases such as this, the majority of people only experience periodic
breathing, instead of full blown CSR. These changes in respiratory
rates are due to the lower levels of oxygen in the air, which result in
cycles of hyperventilation followed by hypoventilation.
Cheyne Stokes Respiration and Periodic Breathing
serious forms of CSR and periodic breathing which occur during the
day may require the use of a respirator
to ensure the
patient can breathe properly. When these conditions occur during the
night, thus leading to central sleep apnea or hypopnea, the most common
and by far most effective treatment option is the use of a Bi-PAP
(bi-level positive airway pressure) is a machine that produces
levels of air current, which is basically forced into the
patient's lungs while sleeping through the use of a mask. These
machines ensure that the person's breathing rate remains the same
throughout the night, by forcing air into their lungs even when their
brain is not giving the signal to breathe.
many people report finding these machines quite uncomfortable to
use, the truth is that Bi-PAP is really the only truly effective
treatment for central sleep apnea, making its use a
necessity for anyone
suffering from this disorder.
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