Central Apnea


Definition - What does Central Apnea mean?

Central sleep apnea (CSA) is a sleep disorder characterized by episodic breathing cessations due to a neurological dysfunction of the brain to stimulate pulmonary muscles in the autonomous control of respiration during sleep. Medical evidence suggests that the lower brainstem is the culprit for irregular breathing cycles, which is often symptomatic of a primary health condition such as Alzheimer’s disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), congestive heart failure, encephalitis and Parkinson’s disease. However, many patients can experience co-morbid implications of central apnea and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) or receive an idiopathic (unknown) diagnosis of central sleep apnea that disrupts sleep patterns on a regular basis.

WorkplaceTesting explains Central Apnea

Individuals with central apnea are susceptible to detrimental health factors that affect longevity of life including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, and obesity. In addition, many people with central sleep apnea often experience sleep deprivation, daytime sleepiness, and chronic fatigue. Common symptoms of central apnea include frequent arousals from sleep, erratic moods, persistent early morning headaches, and memory lapses.

A sleep study called a polysomnogram serves to help chart and monitor sleep patterns in patients deemed as candidates for central sleep apnea. Sleep technicians assess homeostatic variables during circadian rhythm cycles including brainwave activity, breathing patterns, eye movements, and heart rate, using this biofeedback for comparative analysis against baseline metrics. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices are employed to regulate breathing patterns by keeping the airway open at a pressure consistent with the patient’s physiological needs.

Since sleep apnea is more common among an older demographic, many individuals may qualify for disability benefits, in particular, safety-sensitive positions that require operating a commercial vehicle. Seeking treatment allows employees with central sleep apnea to excel in their job performance that might be otherwise compromised by sleep disturbances. Consequently, a legitimate diagnosis for central sleep apnea can help deter workplace accidents and incidents that can lead to serious injuries or, in some cases, fatalities.

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