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IEEE Trans Biomed Eng. 2002 Mar;49(3):206-16.

Assessment of closed-loop ventilatory stability in obstructive sleep apnea.

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  • 1Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Scientific Computing Department, King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.


Previous studies on ventilatory control in obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) have generally indicated depressed chemosensitivity, implying greater stability of the chemical control of breathing in these subjects. However, these results were based on tests involving steady-state or quasi-steady measurements obtained in wakefulness. We have developed a method for assessing the dynamic stability characteristics of chemoreflex control in OSA patients during sleep. While continuous positive airway pressure was applied to stabilize the upper airways, acoustically stimulated arousals were used to perturb the respiratory system during sleep. The fluctuations in esophageal pressure that ensued were analyzed, using a closed-loop minimal model, to estimate the chemoreflex loop impulse response (CLIR). Tests using simulated data confirmed the validity of our estimation algorithm. Application of the method to arousal responses measured in six OSA and five normal subjects revealed no statistically significant differences in gain margins and loop gain magnitudes between the two groups. However, the CLIR in the OSA subjects exhibited faster and more oscillatory dynamics. This result implies that, in addition to unstable upper airway mechanics, an underdamped chemoreflex control system may be another important factor that promotes the occurrence of periodic obstructive apneas during sleep.

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