Are You Smarter Than Your Auto CPAP Machine?

Are You Smarter Than Your Auto CPAP Machine?

Although many people who have sleep apnea go undiagnosed, many CPAP users get frustrated with using a CPAP, or cannot seem to get the most out of their therapy. New CPAP machines are effective computers, which strive to optimize therapy for every user. You may believe you know what is working best for you. However, it is unlikely that you are smarter than your CPAP, especially because everything that occurs during an apnea event occurs while you are asleep.

Because an auto CPAP is one of the most sophisticated machines available for sleep apnea, and also the primary choice of new CPAP users, we will focus on how the auto CPAP helps to optimize a user’s experience.

Auto CPAP Machine Basics

In its most basic function, an auto CPAP provides the user with just enough pressure to allow the airway to stay open. The auto CPAP sensors instantaneously sense and adjust the pressure on a breath-by-breath basis. Although this technology has been around for a decade, it is only in the last five years that auto CPAP machines have really begun to take hold in the market.

This increase in market share for the auto CPAP is due to two primary factors. First, groundbreaking technology has made the auto CPAP more responsive, natural, and comfortable. Not only has this technology made the auto CPAP better, but it has also allowed manufacturers to reduce the machine’s size and weight dramatically. Second, as old CPAP machines wear out, owners demand replacement machines that offer more comfort, effectiveness, and better technology. PAP users want comfort in the therapy so compliance is less of a chore. Thus, auto CPAP machines are often users’ first choice due to comfort, a natural therapy experience, and a host of data that allows CPAP users to uniquely fine-tune their therapy.

Auto CPAP Technology

How does the auto CPAP work?  Sensors within the CPAP and near the mask trigger an algorithm designed to continually monitor and dynamically adjust the pressure. As the sensor identifies a potential apnea event, the pressure automatically increases. This happens instantaneously and on a breath-to-breath basis. Moreover, it provides just enough pressure to maintain the airway’s integrity. By providing just enough pressure to keep the airway open, both comfort and effectiveness are maximized.

Another area in which some auto CPAPs excel is the detection of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) versus central sleep apnea (CSA). When OSA occurs, the airway becomes severely limited or completely blocked. The brain immediately alerts the body to resume breathing, which typically results in a jolt to awaken the body from sleep. This happens subconsciously, and sufferers are not even aware it is happening. CSA is different in that it is the brain that temporarily stops sending signals to the breathing muscles. However, the airway remains open. Both, of course, can prove fatal. But, they must be treated differently. The new auto CPAP machines can detect CSA. This can assist doctors in both the diagnosis and the type of therapy necessary.

Compliance management has also become much more comprehensive with the new auto CPAP machines. Compliance data is typically stored within an SD card embedded into the unit. This SD card is important for users to view how well their therapy is working. Doctors can also fine-tune the therapy for the user. Most data storage provides 365 days of compliance history along with a quality sleep score (QSI). Efficacy data, which helps optimize and fine-tune CPAP therapy to increase comfort and effectiveness, can be a powerful tool for users as well. Typical efficacy data stored within the SD card includes:

  • AHI – total number of events. This is calculated by both apneas and hypopneas. The lower this number is, the better.
  • Leak – estimate of the rate of air escaping due to mouth or mask leaks.
  • AI – Apnea Index. This is the number of apnea events during a period of time based on a baseline.
  • HI – Hypopnea Index (shallow breathing). This records the number of hypopnea events during a period of time based on a baseline.

A few other functions round out what makes the auto CPAP the choice for both veteran and new CPAP users alike. Those functions revolve around comfort and include pressure relief on exhalation, automatic altitude adjustment, automatic leak compensation, auto start/stop, mask fit features, and recurrent patient reminders. Combining all of the features of an auto CPAP provides an impressively functioning machine. It's also a highly comfortable, and completely effective machine, which can make a significant difference during use.

For additional information on various topics concerning sleep apnea and CPAP products, please refer to our blog. It is constantly updated and offers free advice and information.  If you’d like to learn more about the quality sleep apnea products we carry, or if you have additional questions, don’t hesitate to call us at (866) 414-9700. Or, you can contact us through our website. Contact Us.

Chris Vasta

Chris Vasta is the president of The CPAP Shop and an expert in sleep and respiratory therapy. He often provides insights on product design and functionality on various manufacturers’ prototypes and is frequently tapped to provide reviews on new releases.