Thursday, January 14, 2010

Why Central Sleep Apnea is such an issue

Hey again, I thought I might discuss a little more about why central sleep apnea can be such an issue. I briefly touched on my last post how the brain malfunctions in central sleep apnea in regards to its communication with the muscles responsible for respiration, and how that essentially causes your body to "forget" to breathe. The brainstem controls breathing, so any condition, disease, or trauma to the brainstem may affect how the brainstem communicates. Certain conditions that affect the brainstem can lead to this communication malfunction, and the development of central sleep apnea.

Some of these conditions include congestive heart failure, trauma to the spine, Parkinson's disease,  encephalitis (as its effects could migrate or manifest in the brainstem), congenital anomolies (conditions people are born with) such as spina bifida, severe arthritis and degenerative changes in the spine or base of the skull, or complications arising from the use of certain medications like painkillers. These conditions can all lead to central sleep apnea, and poor sleep. Anything that disrupts normal sleeping problems is a serious issue, as lack of quality sleep can contribute to slow healing wounds, depression, poor memory formation, poor judgement in decision making, or a vulnerable and stressed immune system which leaves the body susceptible to infection. Therefore, anything that disrupts normal sleeping should be discussed with a healthcare professional so treatment options can be discussed.

Mike M., RN BSN
Owner of


  1. You are right.Poor sleep can result to many problems including memory loss.There is also an irritability present in those who do not sleep well.

  2. I am a 37-year-old female, and after a recent sleep study, was told that I have central apnea. I am now sleeping with oxygen, which is supposed to keep my o2 Sat up, but of course, it doesn't solve the problem of the apnea. I was diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer Aug. 13, 2009, had a bilateral mastectomy on Aug. 27, 2009, and finished my last chemo treatment in January 2010. I've read that the way to "treat" central apnea is to treat the CAUSE of the apnea, and I am wondering if there is any knowledge that chemotherapy causes damage to the brainstem? Thank you, Tiffany Rogers (

  3. look up ambian and central sleep apnea

  4. hi Tiffany, I was dx'd with B.C July 2011, like you also double mastectomy and chemo (chose to go breastfree with no recon). I finished chemo Dec 20111 and was dx'd with central apnea in March 2012. I had been telling the doc I was stopping breathing since 2009 but because I was slim and didn't snore he didn't refer me for a sleep study. I do wonder if the anaethetics did something upstairs, but now seeing an endocrinologist because something is odd there... hope you have an endocrinologist at least check all's fine in that dept.