Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

What is Cheyne Stokes Respiration and When Does it Occur?

Cheyne Stokes Respiration is a form of a breathing disorder occurring in a cyclical manner in which there is a gradual increase in breathing followed by a decrease and a period where breathing completely stops. Cheyne Stokes Respiration is a serious condition and requires immediate treatment.

Normal breathing rate of an individual is 14-20 per minute. A breathing pattern like Cheyne Stokes Respiration can be quite scary for the individual. An individual can have this form of abnormal breathing at any time but is more prominent while sleeping.

Cheyne Stokes Respiration occurring at sleep is considered to be an extension of hyperventilation with periods of sleep apnea. Cheyne Stokes Respiration also increases carbon dioxide levels in the body.

What are the Causes of Cheyne Stokes Respiration?

Cardiac conditions like congestive heart failure or stroke are primary causes of Cheyne Stokes Respiration. However, it can also be caused due to other conditions like brain tumors, traumatic brain injuries, not used to being in high altitudes with the change in air pressure causing Cheyne Stokes Respiration, encephalitis, and increased intracranial pressure. Individuals with chronic pulmonary edema also at times suffer from Cheyne Stokes Respiration.

How is Cheyne Stokes Respiration Treated?

An individual with serious form of Cheyne Stokes Respiration requires immediate treatment. Management of this condition is normally done with aggressive heart failure treatment, medications to stimulate the respiratory system, and oxygen. An aggressive heart failure treatment decreases the intensity of Cheyne Stokes Respiration, although there is very limited data that supports this theory.

Stimulating the respiratory system is also one of treatments believed to be effective for Cheyne Stokes Respiration. Respiratory stimulants reduce the severity of the abnormal breathing pattern but these medication need to be given with extreme caution as excess of such medications may complicate the condition.

Inhaling carbon dioxide also is reported to slow down the breathing rate associated with Cheyne Stokes Respiration. Again, there is limited data on respiratory stimulants being extremely effective for Cheyne Stokes Respiration.

Supplemental Oxygen is also one of the treatment strategies for Cheyne Stokes Respiration. Oxygen therapy can be used for short term as it is believed that it improves the episodes of apnea and improves the intensity of Cheyne Stokes Respiration.

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Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: October 4, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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