Neuromuscular Disorders, Kyphoscoliosis

Hypoventilation (Abnormally Shallow Breathing) During Sleep

What Is It?

Hypoventilation refers to breathing too shallowly which can have two serious consequences, related to the fact that when we inhale, we bring oxygen into our lungs, and when we exhale, we eliminate carbon dioxide, a waste product. These consequences are:

  • Drops in blood oxygen levels.
  • A build-up of carbon dioxide in the body (carbon dioxide retention). Carbon dioxide acts much like a narcotic, reducing one’s drive to breathe–sometimes to dangerous degrees that can even lead to complete cessation of breathing (respiratory arrest).

What Causes It?

Causes of hypoventilation include:

  • Severe obesity which restricts the depth of breathing
  • Restricted breathing due to spine deformities (such as kyphoscoliosis)
  • Weakness of the muscles used in breathing (ex: post-polio syndrome, muscular dystrophies)
  • Chronic lung disease (such as COPD, emphysema)

What Can Be Done About It?

Average Volume Assured Pressure Support (AVAPS™), developed by Respironics, is an exciting new technology developed for this dangerous and widespread health problem that had always been extremely difficult to treat.

AVAPS™ differs from standard bilevel positive airway pressure (BiPAP™) in that it ensures that the patient will breathe in a targeted tidal volume (the amount of air inhaled into the lungs), as set by the physician, to ensure an adequate depth of breathing. AVAPS™ was just introduced in the United States in December, 2007.It is now available for home use and is a special feature that is built in to special BiPAP™ machines.
The Columbus Community Health Regional Sleep Disorders Center will be the first in Columbus to begin using this revolutionary treatment! Installation of the equipment in all our recording bedrooms is scheduled for December 2007.

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