What Your Apnea Hypopnea Index Means for Your Sleep Apnea Treatment

Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition which affects nearly every aspect of your health. If you’ve got sleep apnea, you’re experiencing moments without oxygen up to hundreds of times a night. Most physicians prescribe continuous positive airway pressure therapy via a CPAP machine to treat the disorder. CPAP machines keep your airway open, unobstructed by your soft palate or narrowed airway. After starting CPAP therapy, many users wonder whether or not their CPAP therapy is working. Health care providers often track their patient’s apnea hypopnea index to keep their finger on the pulse of your condition.

What is the Apnea Hypopnea Index?

A person’s apnea hypopnea index reports the number of times the airway is narrowed or partially obstructed, events known as hypopnea, or totally blocked, an experience known as apnea, throughout the night. Your apnea hypopnea index, or AHI, is determined via a sleep study, usually completed in a clinical sleep laboratory or at home.

What Does My AHI Mean?

The AHI measure the severity of your sleep apnea. The number provided after your sleep study describes the quantity of episodes without enough breath or completely without breath every hour during the night. A score below 5 indicates no sleep apnea or a very slight existence of the condition. Mild sleep apnea is given a score between 5 and 15, moderate is between 15 and 30, and severe cases of the disorder present with a score of over 30 episodes per hour.

Tracking Your AHI

Many modern CPAP machines such as the Philips Respironics System One REMstar Auto A-Flex (DS560S) or the ResMed S9 Elite track your AHI while you sleep each night. Your information will be stored on your machine in an SD card that you can extract the information from and bring to your physician. Your AHI is stored on the CPAP machine’s SD card and from there, your health care team can determine whether or not your current treatment is effective. If it’s not, they may prescribe a high level of pressure or suggest another treatment option.

Your goal for CPAP therapy is generally to obtain an AHI of less than 5. Some sleep specialists even prefer a number as low as 1 or 2. If you’ve got questions about achieving your goal or which CPAP system would best help your sleep apnea, contact the sleep specialists at Breatheeasycpap.com.