Sleep Apnea Treatment Centers of America Complex Sleep Apnea

Complex Sleep Apnea

CSASnoring is the hallmark and classic symptom of the most common type of sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This condition is characterized by episodes where the individual stops breathing throughout the night. With OSA, there is an anatomical reason for the breathing stoppage, i.e. an airway obstruction. It is not as easy to detect the second most prevalent form of sleep apnea, central sleep apnea (CSA). With CSA, the brain of affected individuals misinterprets the levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide being inhaled and exhaled. As a result, breathing rates slow down to dangerously low levels.

Symptoms for OSA and CSA are similar (other than snoring):

  • Fatigue
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Lack of concentration
  • Memory issues
  • Mood swings
  • Insomnia

There is a third type of sleep apnea, whereby an individual has both OSA and CSA at the same time, and is known as mixed sleep apnea. This type is fairly common.

Complex Sleep Apnea Discovered

complex-sleep-apneaResearchers at the Mayo Clinic identified yet another form of sleep apnea, which they named complex sleep apnea (CompSA) or “treatment-emergent central sleep apnea.” They discovered that certain individuals who seemed as though they had OSA (on average 20-30 pauses in breathing every hour) did not have an improvement in their breathing with the use of a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine or a bilevel device. This treatment helped remove the obstruction but aspects of CSA took over to still disrupt breathing.

Other research groups have confirmed that with CompSA there is an increase in central apnea episodes when CPAP treatment is initiated As a result, the apnea hypopnea index (AHI), which is used to measure the severity of the disease, does not move toward the normal range even though the “obstruction” has been taken out of the picture.

Since CPAP and bilevel therapy can actually make a person’s AHI increase and worsen his or her condition, neither treatment is an option for CompSA patients. Thankfully there is an option for these individuals. VPAP Adapt SV is the first Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved device that can be used to treat CompSA (along with CSA and mixed sleep apnea). VPAP Adapt SV works to provide ventilator-like assistance on a breath-by-breath basis for those patients suffering from these types of sleep apnea. Basically, this device helps the individual breathe when their muscles fail to do so.


If you have been wondering whether or not you have some form of sleep apnea, contact one of our medical concierges today at 1-855-863-4537 or schedule a free consultation when it’s convenient for you.