- A dictionary of medical eponyms

Cheyne-Stokes respiration

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A common and bizarre breathing pattern characterized by alternating periods of apnoea and hyperpnea. Typically, over a period of 1 minute, a 10-20 second episode of apnoea or hypopnoea is observed followed by respirations of increasing depth and frequency. The cycle then repeats itself. Despite periods of apnoea, significant hypoxia rarely occurs.

Occurs in encephalitis and cerebral circulatory disturbances and manifests a lesion of the bulbar centre of respiration. The condition may also, however, be present as a normal finding in children, and in healthy adults following fast ascending to great altitudes, or in sleep.


  • J. Cheyne:
    A case of apoplexy in which the fleshy part of the heart was converted into fat.
    Dublin Hospital Reports, 1818, 2: 216-223.
    Reprinted in F. A. Willius & T. E. Keys: Cardiac Classics, 1941, pp. 317-320.
  • William Stokes:
    Fatty degeneration of the heart.
    In his: The Diseases of the Heart and Aorta. Dublin, 1854, pp. 320-327.

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