Is A Bipap Machine Right For You?

Is A Bipap Machine Right For You?

CPAP users have probably heard the term Bi-level, VPAP or BiPAP but are unclear about what it is and how it differs from a regular CPAP machine. Without getting too technical, there are a few key differences between a normal CPAP machine and the more complex BiPAP machine. As CPAP users are aware, a regular CPAP machine essentially prevents apneas by delivering a constant stream of air through a tube and into a face mask. This constant pressure helps keep the airway open and allows the user to breathe normally.

Although BiPAP machines function similar to a regular CPAP for inhalation pressure (IPAP), it differs on the exhalation pressure (EPAP). On exhalation, the BiPAP machine delivers a pressure relief or drop to allow for patients to breathe more closely to their normal breathing pattern. This exhalatory pressure relief is especially noticeable for patients with prescribed pressures of 15cm or higher as it allows them to exhale without fighting against a strong constant pressure. The difference between the IPAP and EPAP or pressure support must be determined by a sleep study and has no limits. In fact, the EPAP pressure of a BiPAP can reduce to the machines lowest setting of 4cm. This function provides for a more comfortable CPAP experience and, thus, a higher compliance rate.

Respironics PR System One CPAP machine.

A more advanced device, a BiPAP ST machine, provides Spontaneous/Timed (S/T) therapy. This machine allows for the patient to breathe at their normal, pre-set respiratory rate. If the patient experiences an apnea or their breathing falls below the set rate, the device maintains the patient's ventilation with a timed breath. The Bipap ST device will actually initiate a breath during therapy which allows for the patient to receive a minimum number of breaths per minute Even more complex machines actually calculate ventilation and BiPAP pressure automatically.

All major CPAP machine manufacturers have BiPAP machines, but they vary slightly in their algorithm and operation while still providing the basic pressure relief function. Also, as with all CPAP machines, any type of CPAP nasal, full face or nasal pillow mask will function with a BiPAP machine. Nevertheless, it is always important to discuss with your sleep specialist which type of machine or mask style is most appropriate. CPAP compliance is directly associated with comfort levels, so it is important to make sure both machine and mask are suitable and properly fitted for your particular situation.

A new Auto BiPAP we at The CPAP Shop are impressed with is the Resmed S9 VPAP Auto. The main objective of this compact, travel friendly machine is to deliver effective therapy as naturally and comfortably as possible. This Bi-Level featuring Easy-Breathe, ResMed's comfort technology, offers nearly silent therapy and greater pressure stability so patients sleep comfortably throughout the night. The Easy-Breathe technology synchronizes with the patient's normal respiration so breathing feels natural and comfortable. This device also uses AutoSet technology which automatically adjusts to a patient's pressure needs as they vary throughout the night. With ResMed's clinically proven AutoSet algorithm, the S9 VPAP is able to detect flow limitation and act preemptively to prevent apneas and snoring events. The unit also has an optional ClimateLine tube which delivers a constant, comfortable temperature at the mask and also helps substantially reduce rainoutwhich. An optional humidifier attaches to the side of the S9 VPAP to provide heated humidification. The device automatically detects the presence of the humidifier and no other accessories are required for its use.

Respironics has also designed a Bi-Level machine which automatically adjusts to the patient's breathing cycles. The Respironics PR System One Auto BiPAP features a proactive, multi-level algorithm that analyzes several parameters to monitor and respond to a patient's breathing. This BiPAP combines auto adjusting pressure delivery with the breath-by-breath pressure relief of Bi-Flex. Bi-Flex softens airflow at inhalation and exhalation and allows for patients to further refine their IPAP and EPAP pressures making for an extremely natural and stress-free experience for patients. In Bi-Flex mode, patient adjustable pressure relief is provided at the critical stages of EPAP, IPAP, and exhalation. The Auto BiPAP also allows for fixed IPAP and EPAP and a function which transitions the machine to automatic during the night. It also has a wide pressure range (4-25cm). As with all Respironics PR System One BiPAP machines, it has an optional heated humidifier. Because dry mouth and nasal irritation are common reasons for non-compliance, the PR System One Heated Humidifier features an easy-turn dial that is easily set to five different humidification levels.

Hopefully, this article has provided a clear, concise picture between the differing functions of a CPAP and a BiPAP machine. If there are further questions or need for further information, please call our experts at The CPAP Shop.

The CPAP Shop is pleased to offer the following machines:

Written by: Chris Vasta of The CPAP Shop.
Family owned and operated since 2003, we are CPAP specialists and our first priority is our customer and their satisfaction. Our goal is to educate and provide knowledge to help people who suffer from sleep apnea make informed decisions. Please visit us at become one of our thousands of satisfied customers.

Copyright (c) 2009 Chris Vasta

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.