What are CPAP, Bi-PAP, and PAP Therapy

This SleepSomatics blog article is part two of a six part series on CPAP Therapy, Bi-PAP (or Bi-Level) Therapy, and Treating Sleep-Disordered Breathing (Sleep Apnea) with Non-Invasive PAP Therapy.

Part One: Drowsy Driving Kills

Part Two: What are CPAP, Bi-PAP, and PAP Therapy

Part Three: Insurance Coverage for CPAP, Bi-PAP, and PAP Therapy

Part Four: PAP Masks: Keep it Simple, Small, and Silent

Part Five: Side-Effects and What to Expect from CPAP, Bi-PAP, and PAP Therapy

Part Six: Cleaning and Servicing your CPAP, Bi-PAP, and PAP Therapy

Treating Sleep Apnea and Snoring with CPAP, Bi-PAP, and PAP Therapy

Positive Airway Pressure (or PAP) Therapy is the gold-standard treatment for sleep-disordered breathing, which includes breathing sleep disorders obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea, and complex sleep apnea.

What is Sleep Apnea?

The Greek word "apnea" translates as "without breath." Sleep-disordered breathing (sleep apnea) and snoring result from airway blockages or restrictions. Collapsing airways reduce available oxygen and increase carbon dioxide, resulting in increased blood pressure, heart rate, and stress hormones. With each airway collapse, the brain sends signals to the muscles to attempt to re-open the airway. This causes the sufferer to temporarily 'awaken' from sleep with a physical movement or action, like a choke, snort, cough, gasp, or head movement. These repeated airway collapses can occur hundreds of times throughout the night, increasing blood pressure and stressing the heart and increasing one's risk for a heart attack or stroke. Untreated sleep apnea can also fragment the sleep architecture and reduce restorative sleep, causing daytime sleepiness, fatigue, and weight gain.

Untreated sleep apnea increases a person's risk for high blood pressure (hypertension), stroke, diabetes, depression, cancer, automobile accidents, and eventually, death. With the rise in automobile accidents attributed to sleepy or tired drivers, sleep apnea has been gaining increased attention by medical examiners and the FMCSA and DOT for truck drivers and commercial driver license holders.

The statistics are rather staggering the number of secondary conditions that are exacerbated by (if not outright caused by) sleep apnea. And yet, despite how widespread the disorder is, 9 out of 10 sleep apnea patients are undiagnosed and currently untreated.

How Common is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is the most common sleep disorder, affecting as many Americans as Type II Diabetes. Harvard Medical School's education program on sleep apnea included one of the most famous sleep apnea patients, Shaquille O'Neil.

This video is one in a series that explains the diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea. For more information, visit www.understandingsleep.org

How does PAP treat Sleep Apnea and Snoring?

Positive Airway Pressure (PAP) Therapy treats sleep apnea and snoring by delivering pressurized air into the upper airway, inflating the airway back open and eliminating the blockage. CPAP and Bi-PAP (Bi-Level) are non-invasive and painless treatments for sleep apnea. CPAP (or continuous positive airway pressure) delivers a continuous pressure to maintain an open airway. Bi-PAP (Bi-Level) utilizes two pressures, one upon inspiration and a lower pressure upon exhalation, to more comfortably maintain an open airway.

This video explains what Obstructive Sleep Apnea is and how it is treated.

The Health Benefits of CPAP

CPAP treats sleep apnea, eliminates snoring, and can help treat hypertension by reducing high blood pressure that is caused by untreated sleep apnea. In addition to improving one's sleep architecture, treating sleep apnea with CPAP can lower glucose levels in diabetic or pre-diabetic patients.

Two recent medical studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine investigated how treating sleep apnea with CPAP reduced cardiovascular risks:

"We found that in patients with obesity and moderate to severe sleep apnea, it is the obesity rather than the sleep apnea that is the major cause of inflammation, insulin resistance, dyslipidemia, and raised blood pressure," lead author of the first study, Julio Chirinos, MD, Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Pennsylvania, commented to Medscape Medical News.
"But sleep apnea does appear to have some effect on blood pressure," he noted. "Our message is that if sleep apnea patients are obese — which many of them are — they need to deal with their obesity as the first priority. But CPAP is also useful in reducing blood pressure in these patients."
Lead author of the second paper, Daniel Gottlieb, MD, Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System, added: "Prior studies have shown that CPAP reduced blood pressure in sleep apnea patients with poorly controlled blood pressures, but our results extend these findings to patients in the normal range. The amount of blood pressure reduction we found with CPAP in this study would translate into a 20% reduction in stroke and a 15% reduction in cardiovascular disease."

#StoptheSnore and Start Treating your Sleep Apnea with CPAP Today

As an AASM-accredited sleep diagnostic center, SleepSomatics supports the #StoptheSnore campaign of sleep apnea treatment awareness sponsored by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Sleep apnea testing and treatment are readily available, and there is no excuse to ignore your sleep problem. Treating Sleep Apnea begins with accredited sleep testing at SleepSomatics. Depending on your insurance coverage, 70+ sleep disorders including sleep apnea can be evaluated in-lab at SleepSomatics or SleepSomatics can test your sleep apnea at-home. In Part Two of this SleepSomatics six part series on Positive Airway Pressure (or PAP) Therapy, we will look at insurance coverage for CPAP and sleep apnea treatment.

Concerned you aren't getting enough sleep? If you or someone you care about snores or is tired and fatigued during the day, sleep-disordered breathing (and sleep apnea) may be a serious risk. Get your sleep tested today by SleepSomatics, a professionally credentialed and accredited sleep test center located in Austin since 1999. Call 512.323.9253.

For more information on CPAP Therapy for treating sleep apnea and snoring, read this SleepSomatics article's sources:

American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery: Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)

Department of Health and Human Service's National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: What is CPAP

Mayo Clinic: Tips for Avoiding 10 Common Problems

National Sleep Foundation: CPAP Treating Sleep Apnea

ResMed: What is CPAP?

American Academy of Sleep Medicine: CPAP improves glycemic control in type 2 diabetics with sleep apnea

American Sleep Apnea Association: Sleep Apnea

Journal of Hypertension: Effects of continuous positive airway pressure on blood pressure in patients with resistant hypertension and obstructive sleep apnea: a meta-analysis

The New England Journal of Medicine: CPAP, Weight Loss, or Both for Obstructive Sleep Apnea

The New England Journal of Medicine: CPAP versus Oxygen in Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Medscape Medical News Neurology: CPAP Benefits BP on Top of Weight Loss in Sleep Apnea

Sleep Review, The Journal for Sleep Specialists: In Resistant Hypertension, Sleep Apnea Treatment Results in Greater Blood Pressure

This blog article's thumbnail image credit goes to: Doctor Oz.


SleepSomatics Diagnostic Center is a credentialed and accredited sleep center serving Austin and Central Texas since 1999. We provide sleep diagnostic and therapy services including In-Lab Sleep Study, Take-Home Sleep Test, and Sleep Therapy. We gladly accept most insurances and provide you with a written quote of any costs. Questions? Get answers. Let's talk. Call us. We're ready when you are. Call SleepSomatics at (512) 323-9253.