Being diagnosed with sleep apnea can feel like learning a new language. There are so many new words and rules for treating your sleep apnea that it’s easy to misunderstand. Here’s one thing you’ll need to know:
AHI means Apnea–hypopnea index
Still doesn’t mean much, right? Keep reading: we are going to make it easy to understand!
AHI is the reading you get from your CPAP machine after sleeping. It tells you how well you slept by tracking the number of times you stopped breathing completely or partially.
“The Apnea-Hypopnea Index (AHI) measurement is usually delivered within the setting of a sleep study report. It’s the number of times per sleep hour that your upper airway (soft palate at your throat or tongue) partially or completely collapses, causing a drop in blood oxygen levels or a slight arousal from sleep.” (cpap.com)
An apnea episode is when your airway is totally blocked for at least ten seconds. Hypopnea is when your airway is partially blocked for the same amount of time.
The AHI is calculated by adding all apnea and hypopnea episodes and then dividing that number by the number of minutes you slept. Taking the final number, you multiply by 60, and you have your AHI. See how much easier it is to track using a PAP machine?
In the end, your average AHI measures the severity of your sleep apnea and can also help in prescribing the best treatment. Physicians will consider your AHI along with other measurements from a CPAP to see whether your sleep is improving or if other methods could be considered.
An AHI score can fluctuate depending on your current health – whether you have other ailments – or your sleep patterns, alcohol, stress, mask fit, and other concerns. When your AHI changes, it can be helpful to keep a sleep journal so that you know what might have caused the fluctuations.
If you have other questions about sleep apnea or reading your PAP machine, we are here to help! Please call one of our patient representatives for help: 1-800-758-7571