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Eur Respir J. 2002 Oct;20(4):934-41.

Assisted ventilation for heart failure patients with Cheyne-Stokes respiration.

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  • 1Dept of Pulmonary and Intensive Care Medicine, Otto-von-Guericke-Universität Magdeburg, Germany.


Patients with chronic congestive cardiac failure (CCF) frequently suffer from central sleep apnoea syndrome (CSAS). Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) has been suggested as a treatment. The authors hypothesised that bilevel ventilation might be easier to initiate and superior to CPAP at correcting the sleep-related abnormality of breathing in patients with CCF. After excluding those with a history suggestive of obstructive sleep apnoea, 35 patients with CCF (left ventricular ejection fraction <35%) were screened with overnight oximetry and the diagnosis of CSAS was established with polysomnography in 18. Two 14-day cycles of CPAP (0.85 kPa (8.5 mbar)) or bilevel ventilation (0.85/0.3 kPa (8.5/3 mbar)) in random order, were compared in a crossover study. Sixteen patients (13 males), mean age 62.0+/-7.4 yrs completed the study. The pretreatment apnoea/hypopnoea index of 26.7+/-10.7 was significantly reduced by CPAP and bilevel ventilation to 7.7+/-5.6 and 6.5+/-6.6, respectively. The arousal index fell from 31.1+/-10.0 per hour of sleep to 15.7+/-5.4 and 16.4+/-6.9, respectively. Significant and equal improvements with CPAP and bilevel ventilation were found for sleep quality, daytime fatigue, circulation time and New York Heart Association class. The authors conclude that continuous positive airway pressure and bilevel ventilation equally and effectively improve Cheyne-Stokes respiration in patients with congestive cardiac failure.

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