Sleep apnea - central
Central sleep apnea is when you repeatedly stop breathing during sleep because the brain temporarily stops sending signals to the muscles that control breathing.
Central sleep apnea often occurs in people who have certain medical conditions. For example, it can develop in persons who have life-threatening problems with the brainstem, which controls breathing.
Conditions that can cause or lead to central sleep apnea include:
A form of central sleep apnea commonly occurs in people with congestive heart failure.
If the apnea is not associated with another disease, it is called idiopathic central sleep apnea.
Central sleep apnea is not the same as obstructive sleep apnea, which is due to a blockage in the airway.
A condition called Cheyne-Stokes respiration can mimic central sleep apnea. This involves breathing to a variable depth, usually while sleeping.
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Malhotra A. Disorders of ventilatory control. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 86.
Pien GW, Pack AI. Sleep disordered breathing. In: Mason RJ, Broaddus VC, Martin TR, et al, eds. Murray and Nadel’s Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2010:chap 79.
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