Apnea Index (AI)

Definition - What does Apnea Index (AI) mean?

Apnea index (AI) refers to the cumulative number of partial or complete breathing cessations or secondary respiratory events per hour that coincide with three distinct subsets of sleep apnea disorders including obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), central sleep apnea (CSA), and mixed sleep apnea. A polysomnogram is a sleep study designed to target physiological variables where bioelectric activity in the brain, eye movements, heart rate, blood oxygen levels, and respiration are biometric factors in making a diagnosis for sleep apnea.

WorkplaceTesting explains Apnea Index (AI)

Sleep apnea is a chronic sleep disorder that carries significant etiological implications that can affect longevity of life including cardiovascular disease, dementia, diabetes, and stroke. Although sleep apnea is a prevalent health issue, many individuals ignore symptoms such as excessive daytime sleepiness, lethargy, and mood swings, lending to cognitive impairment and motor coordination problems. The apnea index is a useful criterion for assessing individuals who are candidates of a particular sleep apnea condition based on the frequency and duration of sleep disturbance episodes occurring at night.

In some cases, sleep physicians incorporate an obstructive apnea index or central apnea index as a separate test measure to support their findings before implementing a soluble treatment plan. The number of apneic events that influence biorhythms can reflect partial or complete obstruction of the airway from soft tissue musculature lining the throat, inducing breathing difficulties. In other instances, individuals experiencing disruptive sleep patterns indicates an underlying neurological condition that interferes with bioelectric pathways between the brainstem and respiratory muscles. Depending on its severity, common symptoms of sleep apnea include intermittent gasping, shortness of breath, sporadic breathing cessations, persistent sleep arousals, arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), continual snoring, depression, and constant fatigue.

Sleep apnea remains a financial constraint to employers where productivity declines and workplace accidents and injuries create a hazardous environment. Sleep study technology is gaining traction in recognizing sleep apnea and chronic sleep deprivation as a legitimate health condition that often dictates job performance. A polysomnogram that entails an apnea index and concomitant apnea indices as its benchmark against sleep pattern deviations can be conducive to a patient’s prognosis. The sleep doctor can introduce therapeutic modalities to mitigate symptoms and promote healthy sleep patterns. For example, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices are useful in regulating breathing cycles.

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