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Rev Port Pneumol. 2010 Nov-Dec;16(6):907-11.

H1N1 infection and acute respiratory failure: can we give non-invasive ventilation a chance?

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  • 1Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade do Porto, Porto-Portugal.


In 2009, a novel H1N1 Influenza virus has emerged and on June 11 the World Health Organization declared it as pandemic. It may cause acute respiratory failure ranging from severe Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome to exacerbations of airflow limitation. Non-invasive ventilation is now considered first-line intervention for different causes of acute respiratory failure and may be considered in the context of H1N1 pandemic. Although infection control issues have been arisen, non-invasive ventilation was effective and safe during the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome in Asia. It is reasonable to recommend non-invasive ventilation in H1N1-related exacerbations of chronic respiratory diseases, especially in negative-pressure wards. Treatment of early Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome associated with H1N1 using non-invasive ventilation could be tried rapidly identifying those who fail without delaying endotracheal intubation. Considering the high demand for critical care beds during the pandemic, non-invasive ventilation may have a role in reducing the estimated load.

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