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Am Rev Respir Dis. 1991 Aug;144(2):401-5.

Evolution of nocturnal oxyhemoglobin desaturation in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and a daytime PaO2 above 60 mm Hg.

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Department of Medicine, Houston Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Texas.


We studied 31 clinically stable chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients with a PaO2 greater than or equal to 60 mm Hg using polysomnographic sleep study at baseline (between 1983 and 1986) and at a mean follow-up time of 42.5 months to examine the evolution of rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep nocturnal oxyhemoglobin desaturation (NOD). Arterial blood gases and spirometry measured at baseline and follow-up were compared with mean nocturnal SaO2 and to other REM sleep SaO2 parameters. We postulated that the onset of NOD would be seen most frequently in those patients with marked derangements of lung mechanics and greater longitudinal deterioration in arterial blood gases. Eight of the subjects developed REM-NOD on follow-up polysomnography. The appearance of REM-NOD was not related, or only minimally so, to initial PaO2, PaCO2, or mean nocturnal SaO2. Upon follow-up, however, the onset of NOD was always associated with deterioration of daytime PaO2 and PaCO2, mainly in those patients with the most severe baseline derangement of spirometry (lung mechanics). On the other hand, one group showed equivalent deterioration in daytime PaO2 and a stable PaCO2 but had less severely deranged baseline mechanics and demonstrated a fall in mean nocturnal SaO2 only. The findings in this latter group indicate that the development of NOD is not purely a result of decreasing daytime PaO2. We conclude that the onset of REM-NOD is mainly related to a severe derangement of lung mechanics with deterioration of resting awake gas exchange (progressive hypoxemia, hypercarbia, and worsening airflow).(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

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