CPAP treatment can be highly effective in treatment of obstructive sleep apnea. For some patients, the improvement in the quality of sleep and quality of life due to CPAP treatment will be noticed after a single night’s use. Often, the patient’s sleep partner also benefits from markedly improved sleep quality, due to the amelioration of the patient’s loud snoring. The question that usually rises is what other features CPAP has to make CPAP therapy more comfortable? The topics that this blog will cover is CPAP features such as ramp, pressure release function, and the difference between pressure release and BiPAP will be discussed.
Ramp may be used to temporarily lower the pressure if the user does not immediately sleep. The pressure gradually rises to the prescribed level over a period of time that can be adjusted by the patient and/or the provider. The Symbol for ramp is a triangle.
Breathing out against the positive pressure resistance (the expiratory positive airway pressure component, or EPAP) may also feel unpleasant to some patients. Some machines have pressure relief technologies that make sleep therapy more comfortable by reducing pressure at the beginning of exhalation and returning to therapeutic pressure just before inhalation. The level of pressure relief is varied based on the patient’s expiratory flow, making breathing out against the pressure less difficult.
The question that rises is that why not use CPAP with pressure release Instead of BiPAP?
Pressure release is similar to BiPAP therapy in that it offers pressure relief as the patient exhales so that they don’t feel like they’re fighting against the incoming airflow during expiration. However, pressure release is more of a comfort feature for CPAP machines that only offers pressure relief up to 3 cm, whereas BiPAP pressure relief starts at 4 cm and goes up. For those who need only a little pressure relief, a CPAP with pressure might be the right choice.
Another difference between BiPAP and CPAP with pressure release is that the pressure relief from pressure release is not a fixed amount, and the pressure drop can vary from breath to breath, whereas the BiPAP maintains a set, prescribed exhalation pressure. If you have difficulties breathing out against pressure, talk to your clinician at Cansleep to see if you would benefit from pressure relief feature or/and BiPAP.
By Bahareh Ezzati (RRT)