CPAP or Constant Positive Airway Pressure is a mode of artificial ventilation of the lungs with the creation of positive pressure in the airways after exhalation. Currently, CPAP-therapy is used for the treatment of snoring, sleep apnea treatment, arterial hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, daytime sleepiness, obesity, impotence, insomnia, and depression. How can CPAP-therapy cure so many diseases? It is believed that all of these diseases are closely associated with a disturbance of normal sleep. CPAP
Why is Sleep so Important?
Sleep helps the body to relax from the stress with which a person is faced every day. During sleep, hormonal regulation occurs in our body. Some hormones secrete only during sleep, and some hormones secrete only after sleep. Therefore, if sleep is impaired, it leads to a disturbance of the hormonal balance and nervous system transmitters, which ultimately causes the development of various psychological and physical diseases. The main cause of disturbance of normal sleep is sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is an absence of pulmonary ventilation during sleep for more than 10 seconds, which is characterized by decreasing of oxygen saturation in the blood (SaO2) by 4% or more. Usually, sleep apnea lasts for 20-30 seconds, nevertheless, in severe cases it can last for 2-3 minutes. The number of episodes of sleep apnea may sometimes be up to 60% of the total nighttime sleep. Regular sleep apnea (usually not less than 10-15 times within an hour) is called obstructive sleep apnea syndrome. The main symptoms of the obstructive sleep apnea syndrome are daytime sleepiness, deterioration of memory and intelligence affecting ability to work and a constant sense of fatigue.
The main cause of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome is an obstruction of the upper airways. Obstruction of the upper airways means that air cannot get into the lungs and there is oxygen deprivation of the whole organism.
CPAP – Why is it Used?
Constant positive airway pressure (CPAP) is an effective method of treating obstructive sleep apnea syndrome. CPAP-therapy was introduced to clinical practice in 1981 by an Australian physician and Professor. Colin Sullivan for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome.
The mechanism of action of the CPAP device is quite simple. A small compressor is used for creating constant air flow under a certain pressure in the airways during exhalation through a flexible tube and a nose mask. It is also used a humidifier that provides moisturizing and heats the air which enters the airways. This device does not allow the upper airways to be obstructed because of the constant positive air pressure and eliminates the main cause of the obstructive sleep apnea syndrome.
CPAP-therapy for patients with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome is now universally accepted. Before prescribing CPAP-therapy, a Polysomnography is required or in other words a Sleep Study. Polysomnography is a medical examination of a patient’s sleep with the use of specialized computer systems. Polysomnography allows calculating the apnea index and determining the severity of the disease.
The apnea index is the frequency of apnea episodes during one hour of sleep. Apnea index determines the severity of the obstructive sleep apnea syndrome. The apnea index is considered pathologically significant if there are more than 20 apnea episodes per hour, regardless of the presence or absence of clinical symptoms. By the way, even more than 5 attacks of sleep apnea episodes are considered to be threatening for a person with a gradual development of daytime drowsiness, memory impairment, psycho-emotional disorders, insomnia, development of cardiovascular diseases (arterial hypertension, coronary heart disease or stroke), and disturbance of cardiac rhythm.