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History of BiPAP – Respironics and Philips Respironics

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Individuals suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and/or obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can benefit from bilevel positive airway pressure (BiPAP) therapy. COPD is a term used for respiratory and lung diseases which make it hard to breathe. OSA is a term for a sleep-disordered breathing condition. Sleep professionals today often prescribe BiPAP therapy as a treatment for one or both of these conditions.

What is BiPAP?

BiPAP is a brand name trademarked for a certain product of the manufacturer Respironics. Its official generic term is “bilevel positive airway pressure” therapy. You might have even heard the term “BPAP” often used interchangeably with BiPAP. However, they’re both the same thing and both refer to a machine designed for treating sleep disordered breathing.

BiPAP is a type of Non-invasive Ventilation (NIV) which means the application of pressure while wearing a mask. The mask connects to a tube that connects to the machine. Similar to Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP), BiPAP machines are easy to operate, small and fairly quiet. They provide pressures above what’s in room air, helping you to breathe easier during flare-ups and while you’re sleeping.

Difference Between CPAP and BiPAP

During inhalation and exhalation, CPAP applies continuous pressure acting like a “splint” and keeping your airways open while you’re exhaling. This keeps your upper airway soft tissue from collapsing, leading to sleep apnea or difficulty in breathing. It also keeps your alveoli open so your next breath will come easier, keeping your oxygen levels from declining when you’re sleeping.

BiPAP, on the other hand, provides two different pressures: Expiratory Positive Airway Pressure (EPAP) during exhalation and Inspiratory Positive Airway Pressure (IPAP) during inhalation.

Because the BiPAP device flows with your natural breathing pattern, it helps you breathe properly, preventing breathing gaps that some with apnea have.

BiPAP devices are typically easy to transport and lightweight if you’re planning on spending the night away from home or are traveling. The mask for the BiPAP devices come in various sizes and you can adjust them to maximize your comfort.

Read more about CPAP vs BiPAP here.

How the Need for BiPAP Evolved

The BiPAP device was created in the 1990s. BiPAP therapy was initially used for treating sleep apnea. When you sleep, your body requires your central nervous system to help lead the process of breathing. While resting in a reclined position, you will feel more resistance while breathing.

It’s often used in individuals who can’t adjust or find relief with CPAP. The BiPAP, unlike the CPAP device, is known for delivering a constant flow of air, delivers two air pressure levels during the night. While you’re inhaling, you’ll receive a higher pressure level and while exhaling, a lower pressure level.

This decreases the effort it will take you to exhale and can provide you with more comfort, particularly if you experience problems when using a CPAP machine such as:

  • Claustrophobia
  • Anxiety

The BiPAP machine pressure must be adjusted and monitored carefully since it’s not automatic. Doctors typically recommend the BiPAP device for individuals suffering from lung disease or heart failure. BiPAP treatment targets dysfunctional breathing patterns. Since you’re receiving custom air pressure while inhaling and exhaling, the device can provide relief to your overworked chest muscles and lungs.

Depending on their personal needs, individuals may use BiPAP therapy for when they’re awake and when they’re asleep. However, using it during the daytime can limit social interactions and other things, but it’s often necessary for some circumstances.

Generally, people have used and are using this therapy during the night to help keep their airways open when they’re asleep, helping with the exchange of oxygen with carbon dioxide so they’ll breathe easier. For individuals with COPD, this means they’ll experience less labored breathing in the nighttime while they’re sleeping. The airway pressure encourages a steady oxygen flow, allowing the lungs to transport oxygen more efficiently to the body, removing excess carbon dioxide.

About Respironics

Gerald E. McGinnis (or “Jerry” McGinnis) founded Respironics in 1976. In 1988, under the stock ticker symbol RESP, the company went public, In 1992, Respironics received a patent for bi-level technology, which was initially intended as an improvement on CPAP. Later, its use has expanded into the treatment of other breathing disorders, such as COPD.

Respironics is the top resource worldwide in the medical device industry. As a worldwide leader in the respiratory and sleep markets, Respironics provides solutions leading to healthier patients, businesses, and practices. They constantly are gaining insight into their customers’ needs for innovations in things like:

  • Oxygen therapy
  • Sleep apnea management
  • Respiratory drug delivery
  • Noninvasive ventilation

About Philips Holding USA Inc.

Koninklijke Philips N.V. (Royal Philips or PHILIPS) is a multinational Dutch technology company with a complex and long history. Located with headquarters in Amsterdam, the conglomerate company has had a variety of acquisitions through the years with focuses on the lighting and healthcare technology industry.

The company was founded by Gerard Philips and his father Frederik Philips in 1891 in Eindhoven. Light bulbs were their first products, but since then the lighting division has been spun off into a separate company.

Philips is organized into two primary divisions: Philips Consumer health and well-being and Philips Professional Healthcare.

Evolution of Philips Respironics

On December 21, 2007, Respironics announced it entered into a merger agreement with Philips. Philips was to acquire all of the shares of Respironics for a cost of $66 per share and a total sum of $5.1 billion. On March 14, 2008, Philips revealed the finalization of the tender offer for the acquisition of Respironics.

The result was the evolution of the company Philips Respironics, which today develops and distributes respiratory and sleep products. Respironics focuses on medical equipment you use in the home, especially for diagnosing and treating respiratory and sleep disorders like obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).OSA occurs when your throat muscles relax to where they’re making your throat narrow, closing it intermittently while you sleep. You may not even know you’re suffering with this problem.

The firm’s products include devices for the diagnosis and treatment of obstructive sleep apnea, including CPAP, bi-level (BiPAP) non-invasive ventilation machines, oxygen concentrators, hospital ventilators, asthma treatment solutions, and infant apnea monitors for infants at risk of SIDS.

The Philips Respironics brand provides:

  • Homecare pulse oximetry systems
  • Non-invasive ventilation systems
  • Oxygen concentrators
  • CPAP and BiPAP therapy machines
  • Portable home ventilators
  • CPAP Masks
  • Titration systems
  • Diagnostic sleep systems
  • Oral appliances
  • Screening devices
  • Spacer/holding chambers
  • and more…

Breathing, Respiratory Care and Sleep Therapy Products Offered By Philips Respironics

Philips Respironics is the leader in the sleep product market, offering outstanding service, professional support, and innovative machines and devices for over 30 years. The company is committed to improving the operational efficiencies and patient care of sleep centers while providing patients with solutions for better quality sleep.

Here at CPAP.com, you’ll find more than 400 Philips Respironics products, including:

Although at first, it might feel a little awkward, modern BiPAP therapy advancements have improved comfort and ease of use significantly for patients, leading to improved patient compliance. Not every individual with COPD will require BiPAP, and, of course, not all people will benefit from or even tolerate it. But, for the many patients who do, BiPAP has been shown to help COPD patients live well for a long time, enjoying a better quality of life.

Talk with your doctor or sleep professional to see if a BiPAP device can help you breathe and sleep better.

  • David Repasky

    David Repasky has been using CPAP treatment since 2017 and has first-hand experience with what it's like to live with Sleep Apnea. He brings the patient's perspective to the CPAP.com blog and has received formal training in CPAP machines, masks, and equipment.

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