Central Sleep Apnea in Patients with Heart Failure-How to Screen, How to Treat


Heart Failure Research, Advocate Heart Institute


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Central sleep apnea occurs in up to 50% of heart failure patients and worsens outcomes. Established therapies are limited by minimal supporting evidence, poor patient adherence, and potentially adverse cardiovascular effects. However, transvenous phrenic nerve stimulation, by contracting the diaphragm, restores normal breathing throughout sleep and has been shown to be safe and effective. This review discusses the mechanisms, screening, diagnosis, and therapeutic approaches to CSA in patients with HF.

RECENT FINDINGS: In a prospective, multicenter randomized Pivotal Trial (NCT01816776) of transvenous phrenic nerve stimulation with the remedē System, significantly more treated patients had a ≥ 50% reduction in apnea-hypopnea index compared with controls, with a 41 percentage point difference between group difference at 6 months (p < 0.0001). All hierarchically tested sleep, quality of life, and daytime sleepiness endpoints were significantly improved in treated patients. Freedom from serious related adverse events at 12 months was 91%. Benefits are sustained to 36 months. Transvenous phrenic nerve stimulation improves quality of life in patients with heart failure and central sleep apnea. Controlled trials evaluating the impact of this therapy on mortality/heart failure hospitalizations and "real world" experience are needed to confirm safety and effectiveness.

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