Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Relation between Central Sleep Apnea and Heart Failure

Central sleep apnea refers to a condition characterized as sleep breathing disorder which occurs as a result of inappropriate brain signaling to the breathing muscles for initiating respirations. It is not as common as obstructive sleep apnea. The obstructive sleep apnea occurs when air is unable to flow through one's nostrils or mouth, but the individual still puts his effort to continue breathing.

Contemporary researchers have identified a strong correlation between central sleep apnea and heart failure. As expounded by Mayo Clinic in their collaborative study, central sleep apnea may cause heart failure and inevitably increases the risk in the person having central sleep apnea.

Earlier View vs. Current View

Previously scientists and researchers considered central sleep apnea as a heart failure symptom and this intrinsically influenced the development of medication. Now scientists emphasis over the fact that central sleep apnea may cause heart failure and put the individual in heightened risk for developing this complication in near future, once occurred.

Since improper breathing signals contribute to the development of central sleep apnea, damage in the brain structure may lead to developing central sleep apnea in an individual. Central sleep apnea typically occurs when brain periodically fails to send messages to the breathing muscles and to regulate the normal breathing reflex.

Evidential Support

In a study, as listed in the Journal of American Heart Association, the researchers assessed the sleeping patterns of 47 individuals having weaken pumping condition of the heart, however, not having heart failure. In their findings, they obtain over 50% of the participants were suffering from central sleep apnea, while 17 individuals having it in a severe form.

In their study, they reveal that heart irregularities and central sleep apnea lead to heart failure. Many studies confirmed that central apnea as an apparent symptom of heart failure and central sleep apnea increases the risk for developing abnormal and dangerous heart rhythms. Hence central sleep apnea can be defined as a potential risk factor for individuals with impaired heart function.


Although continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is used for the survival purpose for the people diagnosed with central sleep apnea and heart failure, many studies raise question against its validity. The later group does not underestimate the benefits of CPAP for attenuating central sleep apnea, improving the supply of nocturnal oxygenation, lowering the level of norepinephrine, etc.

In addition, the studies expounded that the use of CPAP method in treating central sleep apnea linked with heart failure improve physiologic and related health complications, however, CPAP does not influence the hospitalization rate, heart transplantation or rate of mortality.

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