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Sleep Med Clin. 2014 Mar 1;9(1):87-104.

Alternative approaches to treatment of Central Sleep Apnea.

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Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Department of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care & Sleep, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, 330 Brookline Avenue, Boston, MA 02215, .


Divergent approaches to treatment of hypocapnic central sleep apnea syndromes reflect the difficulties in taming a hyperactive respiratory chemoreflex. As both sleep fragmentation and a narrow CO2 reserve or increased loop gain drive the disease, sedatives (to induce longer periods of stable non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep and reduce the destabilizing effects of arousals in NREM sleep) and CO2-based stabilization approaches are logical. Adaptive ventilation reduces mean hyperventilation yet can induce ventilator-patient dyssynchrony, while enhanced expiratory rebreathing space (EERS, dead space during positive pressure therapy) and CO2 manipulation directly stabilize respiratory control by moving CO2 above the apnea threshold. Carbonic anhydrase inhibition can provide further adjunctive benefits. Provent and Winx may be less likely to trigger central apneas or periodic breathing in those with a narrow CO2 reserve. An oral appliance can meaningfully reduce positive pressure requirements and thus enable treatment of complex apnea. Novel pharmacological approaches may target mediators of carotid body glomus cell excitation, such as the balance between gas neurotransmitters. In complex apnea patients, single mode therapy is not always successful, and multi-modality therapy might need to be considered. Phenotyping of sleep apnea beyond conventional scoring approaches is the key to optimal management.


Winx; acetazolamide Provent; carbon dioxide; central apnea; multimodal complex; oxygen rebreathing; periodic breathing

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