Cheyne-Stokes Respirations

Other Known Aliasesnone

Definitionoscillating, crescendo-decrescendo pattern of progressive deeper and faster breathing followed a gradual decrease culminating in a period of apnea

Clinical Significance this pattern is theorized to be a delay in changes to ventilation after detection of PaCO2 changes. This lag causes the classic respiratory pattern. Conditions associated with this include cardiac disease, neurologic disease, sedation, acid-base disturbances, prematurity in infancy, and rapid altitude changes.

HistoryNamed after John Cheyne (1777-1836) , who was a British surgeon and received his medical doctorate at the age of 18 from Edinburgh University. He would serve as a military surgeon for several years before joining his father’s medical practice and ultimately, moving to Dublin for the majority of his career. Some have credited him as “The Father of Medicine in Ireland”. He would describe his eponymous findings in his 1818 article entitled ” A case of apoplexy in which the fleshy part of the heart was converted to fat”

William Stokes (1804-1878), was an Irish physician and received his medical doctorate from the University of Edinbugh in 1825. He was a leader and pioneer in the adaptation of the Parisian school of anatomical diagnosis and helped introduce the stethoscope to clinical practice in Ireland. He would note his eponymous findings in his 1854 textbook entitled ” The Diseases of the Heart and Aorta” and cited Dr. Cheyne as observing this first.


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  6. Cheyne J. A case of apoplexy in which the fleshy part of the hear was converted into fat. Dubin Hospital Records. 1818;2:216-223. [link]
  7. Stokes W. The Diseases of the Heart and the Aorta. 1954. Dublin. [link]

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