Sleep Apnea


Sleep Apnea is a serious, potentially life-threatening condition that is far more common than generally understood.

It is characterised by brief interruptions of breathing during sleep and affects at least 2% to 4% of the adult population.

It is estimated that nearly 80% of men and 93% of women with moderate-to-severe sleep apnea are undiagnosed.

The number of involuntary breathing pauses (apnea events) may be as high as 20 to 100 or more per hour. The frequent interruptions of deep, restorative sleep often leads to excessive daytime sleepiness and may be associated with an early morning headache.


What is an Apnea or Hypopnea Event?

Simply Apnea means no breathing and Hypopnea means shallow breathing. Each event has to be longer than 10 seconds to be counted as an event.


Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

Obstructive Sleep Apnea is the most common type of sleep apnea and is caused by obstruction of the upper airway. It is characterized by repetitive pauses in breathing during sleep, despite the effort to breathe, and is usually associated with a reduction in blood oxygen saturation. These pauses in breathing, called "apneas" (literally, "without breath"), typically last 20 to 40 seconds.

OSA can be very effectively treated with CPAP Therapy.


Central Sleep Apnea (CSA)

Central Sleep Apnea is a sleep-related disorder in which the effort to breathe is diminished or absent, typically for 10 to 30 seconds, either intermittently or in cycles and is usually associated with a reduction in blood oxygen saturation.

CSA cannot be treated with CPAP Therapy as the airway is not obstructed.


Mixed or Complex Sleep Apnea

Patients with Central Sleep Apnea will often have Obstructive Sleep Apnea.This type of sleep disorder is described as mixed or complex sleep apnea.

Patients with this condition will usually be recommended to use a CPAP (NOT AUTO) Machine.

In this case a CPAP Machine set to a fixed treatment pressure based on a recent titrated sleep study will be necessary.



Hypopnea Is a medical term for a disorder which involves episodes of overly shallow breathing or an abnormally low respiratory rate. Hypopnea is less severe than apnea (which is a more complete loss of airflow). It may likewise result in a decreased amount of air movement into the lungs and can cause oxygen levels in the blood to drop. It more commonly is due to partial obstruction of the upper airway.
A hypopnea event is not considered to be clinically significant unless there is a 30% (or greater) reduction in flow lasting for 10 seconds or longer and an associated 4% (or greater) desaturation in the person's O2 levels, or if it results in arousal or fragmentation of sleep.
Hypopneas can be very effectively treated with CPAP Therapy.

What is AHI and why is this important?

AHI stands for Apnea Hypopnea Index. Simply, the AHI is the average number of times per hour you stop breathing or shallow breath for 10 seconds or more.

So if you slept for 10 hours (wouldn't that be nice) and your AHI reading was 1.0, then you would have experienced 10 apnea/hypopnea events during your sleep.

Anything under AHI = 5.0 (that is 5 apnea/hypopnea  events per hour) is the benchmark, and it is considered that your sleep apnea is under control.


Disclaimer:All content available on or through this web site or by communication with CPAP Sales is provided for informational and promotional purposes only and must not be considered as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Any decisions made or actions taken as a result of visiting our website or in any discussions or communication with us should be acted or relied upon only after consultation with your doctor or sleep specialist.
  • Last updated 5th January 2016
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