Types of sleep disordered breathing (SDB)

There are three main types of sleep-disordered breathing as manifested in sleep apnea. Discovering the specific differences between them can help you recognize the different types of SDB in your patients.



1. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)

2. Central sleep apnea (CSA)

3. Mixed sleep apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) occurs when a patient’s upper airway closes (either partially or fully) but efforts to breathe continue.

The primary causes of upper airway obstruction are:

  • lack of muscle tone during sleep
  • excess tissue in the upper airway
  • the structure of the upper airway and jaw

OSA is the most common form of sleep apnea, affecting more than three in ten men and nearly one in five women.*

Central sleep apnea (CSA)

CSA occurs when the patient’s airway is open, but respiratory effort ceases due to a decrease in his or her ventilatory drive. It is a central nervous system disorder.

CSA can be caused by heart failure, or disease or injury involving the brain, such as:

  • stroke
  • brain tumor
  • viral brain infection
  • chronic respiratory disease

Patients with CSA don’t often snore, so the condition sometimes goes unnoticed.

Mixed sleep apnea

Mixed sleep apnea occurs when the patient shows signs of both OSA (where the airway is obstructed) and CSA (where no effort is made to breathe).

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Sleep-disordered breathing affects 34% of men and 17% of women aged between 30-70.
Peppard et al. Am J Epidemiol. 2013

More sleep-disordered breathing