Wakefulness may predict if patients can breathe on their own: Study suggests

Washington: According to a recent study, patients who are critically ill are more likely to be successfully weaned from a ventilator or breathing machine if they have higher levels of wakefulness.

“Patients under mechanical ventilation in intensive care units frequently suffer from severe sleep deprivation and, as a consequence, exhibit abnormal patterns of sleep or wakefulness, which explain in part the frequent development of delirium,” said Brochard, senior study author.

Findings of the study were published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
As the research explains, critical patients who are using the mechanical ventilator would respond much better if and when, both their right and left brains experience the same depth of sleep and have higher levels of wakefulness. As for the patients in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) attached to the ventilator, which does save their life by letting the body rest and breathing for them can also cause lung damage, the risk of infections and various health problems which in need the patient to be weaned off from the breathing machine.

The researchers analyzed data of 37 patients from hospitals near Toronto, Canada. They concluded that sleep stages that were determined by conventional sleep scoring guidelines had no effect on Spontaneous Breathing Trial (SBT), during which the patient breathes with no or little help from the ventilator to assess their readiness for breathing on their own; the SBT was successful when the patient experienced longer durations of wakefulness.

The researchers found that the sleep-deprived patients produce brainwave patterns similar to being wakeful and despite being clinically awake they are not fully awake. The authors speculate that this pathological wakefulness is the flip side of sleep deprivation.