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5 Types of Abnormal Respiratory Patterns

Recognition of a pt’s respiratory pattern should be as key as knowing what happened to them. It’s part of any medical assessment really when you are doing you’re A-B-C’s correctly.

At this point, I am writing with the knowledge that you understand the regular anatomy of the respiratory system and how it works.

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Cheyne-Stokes Respirations

Gradually increasing rate and depth of respirations followed by a gradual decreas or respirations with intermittent periods of apnea

Commonly associated with brainstem insults

Kussmaul Respirations

Deep, rapid respirations

Commonly associated with DKA; Caused by metabolic acidosis as a way to remove CO2 and increase the pH of the body.

Biot (ataxic) Respirations

Irregular pattern, rate, and depth of breathing with intermittent periods of apnea

Commonly seen in ICP pt’s, since there is pressure on the pons and medulla, you are causing issues with respiration control.

Apneustic Respirations

Prolonged, gasping inhalation followed by extremely short, ineffective exhalation

Commonly seen with brainstem insult

Agonal Gasps

Slow, shallow, irregular, or occasional gasping breaths

Seen as a result from cerebral anoxia. Agonal gasps may be seen when the heart has stopped but the brain continues to send signals to the muscles of respiration. Not really a respiration.


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