Apnea (stopping breathing for at least 10 seconds) which occurs during sleep may require surgical intervention as treatment.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a condition in which breathing is blocked by closure or collapse of the tissues in the throat so that no air flows through the sleeper's nose or mouth, despite his efforts to breathe.
Central sleep apnea occurs when the movement of the diaphragm (the muscle separating the chest from the abdomen) is temporarily stopped. This type of apnea is usually associated with some abnormality within the central nervous system that controls breathing.
Over 90 percent of all sleep apneas are associated with upper airway obstruction; central respiratory failure without upper airway obstruction accounts for relatively few apneas.
The severity of OSA is measured by an Apnea Index (also known as the Respiratory Disturbance Index). This represents the number of times a patient stops breathing for more than 10 seconds in each hour of sleep during a test. If a patient slept for six hours and had 180 apneas, this results in an Apnea Index of 30 (180 divided by 6 = 30).
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