Definition of Cheyne-Stokes Respiration

A pattern of breathing in which periods of apnea alternate with periods of accelerated breathing. Cheyne-Stokes respiration indicates damage to the brainstem or other nervous system mechanisms that regulate breathing. This breathing pattern also occurs in severe heart failure. During the apneic periods, which may last up to 60 seconds, breathing stops.

During the accelerated periods, the respiratory rate rapidly increases in rate and depth (hyperpnea) then abruptly stops as the cycle returns to apnea. Cheyne-Stokes respiration may reflect an end-stage (near death) breathing pattern in adults, though may persist for an extended time in people who are comatose.


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