Central Sleep Apnea

Central Sleep Apnea NugentWhat is Central Sleep Apnea?

Central Sleep Apnea (CSA) occurs when the brain briefly fails to signal the muscles responsible for controlling breathing. Unlike obstructive sleep apnea, which can be thought of as a mechanical problem, central sleep apnea is more of a communication/neurological problem.

Central sleep apnea is also much less common that obstructive sleep apnea.

Central sleep apnea is often caused by medical problems and conditions that affect the brainstem. These different causes often lead to erratic symptoms and different types of central sleep apnea.

Symptoms Central Sleep Apnea

  • Shortness of breath leading to awakenings,
  • Chronic fatigue ,
  • Morning headaches ,
  • Excessive daytime drowsiness,
  • Poor/Restless Sleep,
  • Difficulty concentrating,
  • Mood changes,
  • Snoring (snoring isn’t as prevalent as it is in OSA sufferers)

Conditions that can lead to Central Sleep Apnea

  • Parkinson’s disease,
  • Medical conditions that affect the brain stem including brain infection,
  • Stroke,
  • Obesity,
  • Certain medications like narcotic painkillers,
  • heart failure

Risk Factors

  • Men are more likely to develop CSA than women
  • More common among older adults, especially those over 65
  • People with heart disorders such as atrial fibrilation and congestive heart failure are at greater risk
  • People who have had a stroke or have a brain tumor
  • Sleeping at higher altitudes than they’re accustomed to. Symptoms usually go away after returning to regular altitude
  • People who use opioid medications are at greater risk
  • Some people with obstructive sleep apnea can change to central sleep apnea when they’re being treated with positive airway pressure (PAP) devices.