This abnormal pattern of breathing can be seen in patients with strokes, traumatic brain injuries, brain tumors, and congestive heart failure. In some instances, it can occur in otherwise normal people during sleep at high altitudes. It can occur in all forms of toxic metabolic encephalopathy. It is a symptom of carbon monoxide poisoning, along with syncope or coma. This type of respiration is also often seen after morphine administration.
Hospice personnel often note the presence of Cheyne-Stokes breathing as a patient nears death, and report that patients able to speak after such episodes do not report any distress associated with the breathing, although it is sometimes disturbing to the family.
Cheyne-Stokes respirations are not the same as Biot's respirations ("cluster breathing"), in which groups of breaths tend to be similar in size. They differ from Kussmaul respirations in that the Kussmaul pattern is one of consistent very deep breathing at a decreased or normal rate.