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Emerg Med J. 2004 Mar;21(2):155-61.

Randomised controlled comparison of continuous positive airways pressure, bilevel non-invasive ventilation, and standard treatment in emergency department patients with acute cardiogenic pulmonary oedema.

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  • 1Department of Emergency Medicine, Leeds General Infirmary, UK. <>



Continuous positive airways pressure (CPAP) and bilevel non-invasive ventilation may have beneficial effects in the treatment of patients with acute cardiogenic pulmonary oedema. The efficacy of both treatments was assessed in the UK emergency department setting, in a randomised comparison with standard oxygen therapy.


Sixty patients presenting with acidotic (pH<7.35) acute, cardiogenic pulmonary oedema, were randomly assigned conventional oxygen therapy, CPAP (10 cm H(2)O), or bilevel ventilation (IPAP 15 cm H(2)O, EPAP 5 cm H(2)O) provided by a standard ventilator through a face mask. The main end points were treatment success at two hours and in-hospital mortality. Analyses were by intention to treat.


Treatment success (defined as all of respiratory rate<23 bpm, oxygen saturation of>90%, and arterial blood pH>7.35 (that is, reversal of acidosis), at the end of the two hour study period) occurred in three (15%) patients in the control group, seven (35%) in the CPAP group, and nine (45%) in the bilevel group (p = 0.116). Fourteen (70%) of the control group patients survived to hospital discharge, compared with 20 (100%) in the CPAP group and 15 (75%) in the bilevel group (p = 0.029; Fisher's test).


In this study, patients presenting with acute cardiogenic pulmonary oedema and acidosis, were more likely to survive to hospital discharge if treated with CPAP, rather than with bilevel ventilation or with conventional oxygen therapy. There was no relation between in hospital survival and early physiological changes. Survival rates were similar to other studies despite a low rate of endotracheal intubation.

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