Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC San Diego

UC San Diego Previously Published Works bannerUC San Diego

The Pathogenesis of Central and Complex Sleep Apnea.



The purpose of this article is to review the recent literature on central apnea. Sleep disordered breathing (SDB) is characterized by apneas (cessation in breathing), and hypopneas (reductions in breathing), that occur during sleep. Central sleep apnea (CSA) is sleep disordered breathing in which there is an absence or diminution of respiratory effort during breathing disturbances while asleep. In obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), on the other hand, there is an absence of flow despite ongoing ventilatory effort.

Recent findings

Central sleep apnea is a heterogeneous disease with multiple clinical manifestations. OSA is by far the more common condition; however, CSA is highly prevalent among certain patient groups. Complex sleep apnea (CompSA) is defined as the occurrence/emergence of CSA upon treatment of OSA. Similarly, there is considerable overlap between CSA and OSA in pathogenesis as well as impacts. Thus, understanding sleep disordered breathing is important for many practicing clinicians.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View