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Central Sleep Apnea with Cheyne-Stokes Breathing in Heart Failure – From Research to Clinical Practice and Beyond

  • K. TerziyskiEmail author
  • A. Draganova
Chapter
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 1067)

Abstract

Characterized by periodic crescendo-decrescendo pattern of breathing alternating with central apneas, Central sleep apnea (CSA) with Cheyne-Stokes Breathing represents a highly prevalent, yet underdiagnosed comorbidity in chronic heart failure (CHF). A diverse body of evidence demonstrates increased morbidity and mortality in the presence of CSB. CSB has been described in both CHF patients with preserved and reduced ejection fraction, regardless of drug treatment. Risk factors for CSB are older age, male gender, high BMI, atrial fibrillation and hypocapnia.

The pathophysiology of CSB has been explained by the loop gain theory, where a controller (the respiratory center) and a plant (the lungs) are operating in a reciprocal relationship (negative feedback) to regulate a key parameter (partial pressure of carbon dioxide (pCO2)). The temporal interaction between these elements is dependent on the circulatory delay. Increased chemosensitivity/chemoresponsiveness of the respiratory center and/or augmented ascending non- CO2 stimuli from the C-fibers in the lungs (interstitial pulmonary edema), overly efficient ventilation when breathing at low volumes and prolonged circulation time are involved. An alternative hypothesis of CSB being an adaptive response of the failing heart has its merits as well. The clinical manifestation of CSB is usually poor, lacking striking symptoms and complaints. Witnessed apneas and snoring are infrequently reported by the sleep partner. Sometimes patients may report poor sleep quality with frequent awakenings, paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea and frequent urination at night. Standard instrumental and laboratory studies, performed in CHF patients, may present clues to the presence of CSB. Concentric remodeling of the left ventricle and dilated left atrium (echocardiography), high BNP and C-reactive protein levels, increased ventilation-carbon dioxide output (VEVCO2) and lower end-tidal CO2 (cardiopulmonary exercise testing), reduced diffusion capacity (pulmonary function testing) and hypocapnia (blood-gas analysis) may indicate the presence of CSB.

CSB and cardiovascular disease are probably linked through bidirectional causality. Cyclic variations in heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory volume, partial pressure of arterial oxygen (pO2) and pCO2 lead to sympathetic-adrenal activation. The latter worsens ventricular energetism and survival of cardiomyocytes and exerts antiarhythmogenic effects. It causes cardiac remodeling, potentiating the progression and the lethal outcome in CHF patients. Several treatment modalities have been proposed in CSB. The most commonly used are continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), adaptive servoventilation (ASV) and nocturnal home oxygen therapy (HOT). Novel therapies like nocturnal supplemental CO2 and phrenic nerve stimulation are being tested recently. The current treatment recommendations (by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine) are for CPAP and HOT as standard therapies, while ASV is an option only in patients with EF > 45%. BPAP (bilevel device) remains an option only when there is no adequate response to previous modes of treatment. Acetazolamide and theophylline are options only after failing the above modalities and if accompanied by a close follow-up.

Keywords

Heart failure Cheyne-Stokes breathing Central sleep apnea CPAP Home oxygen therapy Loop gain Pathophysiology Controller gain Plant gain Circulatory delay 

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© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Pathophysiology DepartmentPlovdiv Medical UniversityPlovdivBulgaria

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