Cheyne-Stokes respiration during sleep in congestive heart failure

Chest. 1997 Feb;111(2):467-73. doi: 10.1378/chest.111.2.467.


Cheyne-Stokes respiration (CSR) is a form of sleep-disordered breathing seen in approximately 40% of congestive heart failure patients with a left ventricular ejection fraction of < 40%. It is characterized by a crescendo-decrescendo alteration in tidal volume separated by periods of apnea or hypopnea. Sleep is generally disrupted, often with frequent nocturnal arousals. Clinical features include excessive daytime sleepiness, paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea, insomnia, and snoring. Proposed mechanisms include the following: (1) an increased CNS sensitivity to changes in arterial PCO2 and PO2 (increased central controller gain); (2) a decrease in total body stores of CO2 and O2 with resulting instability in arterial blood gas tensions in response to changes in ventilation (underdamping); and (3) an increased circulatory time. In addition, hyperventilation induced hypocapnia seems to be an important determinant for the development of CSR. Mortality appears to be increased in patients with CSR compared to control subjects with a similar degree of left ventricular dysfunction. Therapeutic options include medically maximizing cardiac function, nocturnal oxygen therapy, and nasal continuous positive airway pressure. The role that other therapeutic modalities, such as inhaled CO2 and acetazolamide, might have in the treatment of CSR associated with congestive heart failure has yet to be determined.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cheyne-Stokes Respiration / complications*
  • Cheyne-Stokes Respiration / physiopathology
  • Cheyne-Stokes Respiration / therapy
  • Heart Failure / complications*
  • Heart Failure / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Hypocapnia / complications
  • Hypocapnia / physiopathology
  • Hypoxia / complications
  • Hypoxia / physiopathology
  • Positive-Pressure Respiration
  • Respiration / physiology
  • Sleep* / physiology