Ageing does not influence the sleep-related decrease in the hypercapnic ventilatory response
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In young people, a sleep-related reduction in the gain of the ventilatory chemoreflex feedback loop occurs; in the elderly, it has been reported that no sleeprelated reduction occurs. A relatively high loop gain could contribute to periodic breathing and central sleep apnoea in the elderly. This study tested the hypothesis that ageing is associated with a reduction in the magnitude of the sleep-related decrease in the hypercapnic ventilatory response (HCVR). The HCVR was measured using a steady state method, awake and asleep, in groups (n=10) of elderly (66-81 yrs) and young (23-35 yrs) nonapnoeics. Upper airway resistance was maintained close to wakefulness levels using continuous positive airway pressure (mean sleep-related increase in resistance: elderly 1.6ᱮ2 cmH2O?L?s-1, young 1.2ᰮ8 cmH2O?L?s-1). The sleep-related decrease in the HCVR was similar in the elderly and young groups (elderly: wake 0.14ᰮ06 and sleep 0.06ᰮ02 L?min-1?kPa and young, wake 0.19ᰮ07 and sleep 0.10ᰮ04 L?min-1?kPa). Ageing per se was shown not to change the magnitude of the sleep-related decrease in hypercapnic ventilatory response. The authors speculate that age-related changes in the hypercapnic ventilatory response are unlikely to contribute to the increased prevalence of central sleep apnoea in the elderly.
European Respiratory Journal