Monday, January 18, 2010

More info on bipap and auto-pap

Hey again, so I thought I'd discuss two other positive airway pressure machines used to treat central sleep apnea and other forms of sleep apnea in a little more detail. I'm talking about auto-pap and bipap. Both of these machines have similar, if not identical, components as cpap machines (base unit, hosery, mask, etc.). The difference with these machines is how they deliver the stream of oxygen and air. These differences are quite important when dealing with central sleep apnea, due to some of the issues that cental sleep apnea can cause (see previous posts for more about these issues). With auto-pap, the machine automatically figures the amount of pressure needed to maintain an unobstructed airway on a breath-by-breath basis. It does this by measuring the resistance in the patient's breathing, and adjusting the amount of minimal pressure needed to be delivered to overcome that resistance.

The other positive airway pressure machine used to treat central sleep apnea is bi-level positive airway pressure or bipap. The development of bipap allows air to be delivered through the mask at one pressure for inhaling and another for exhaling. Typically, the pressure set for inhalation is higher than the pressure set for exhalation, to make exhaling easier. This makes bipap easier for users to adapt to, and eliminates some of the issues that persons using cpap encounter, such as the inability to overcome the continuous pressure to exhale or retention of cardbon dioxide. Bipap has been found to be particulalrly useful for patients with congestive heart failure and lung disorders, especially those that result in the retention of abnormally high levels of carbon dioxide. I'd be interested to hear what issues people have with either auto-pap or bipap, or preferences for any positive airway pressure machine used to treat central sleep apnea, so please leave your comments.

Mike M., RN BSN
owner of


  1. Thanks for the info. I think it's very beneficial that treatments are now being practiced in a clinic of a dentist in Memphis (TN) for sleep apnea sufferers. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) though, is much more dangerous than simple snoring as the air cannot pass through causing sleepiness during the day. And worse, cardiac problems.

  2. I found bipap uncomfortable and useless for my central sleep apnea. Straight CPAP was also useless. My understanding is these machines (if without ST backup) are designed only for obstructive sleep apnea.
    On the other hand, CPAP or BiPAP ST units have the timed backup if you fail to take a breath. I use the CPAP ST because more comfortable for me (I don't need a high pressure that might warrant bipap but I've tried it). In either case, the machine detects if I fail to breath--and then gives me an extra "burst" of air--which is enough for me to "remind" my body to breath. (the breathing "back-up" is based on a certain number of breaths per minute). Nonetheless, my sleep dr tells me I still have mild apnea even when using this machine. I think he recommended AutoSV or VPAP unit for further improvement (which my insurance won't cover). i am about to look for a used unit... Here's my email for correspondence: thanks!

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