Effects of continuous positive airway pressure on cardiovascular outcomes in heart failure patients with and without Cheyne-Stokes respiration

D D Sin, A G Logan, F S Fitzgerald, P P Liu, T D Bradley
Circulation 2000 July 4, 102 (1): 61-6

BACKGROUND: Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) improves cardiac function in patients with congestive heart failure (CHF) who also have Cheyne-Stokes respiration and central sleep apnea (CSR-CSA). However, the effects of CPAP in CHF patients without CSR-CSA have not been tested, and the long-term effects of this treatment on clinical cardiovascular outcomes are unknown.

METHODS AND RESULTS: We conducted a randomized, controlled trial in which 66 patients with CHF (29 with and 37 without CSR-CSA) were randomized to either a group that received CPAP nightly or to a control group. Change in left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) from baseline to 3 months and the combined mortality-cardiac transplantation rate over the median 2.2-year follow-up period were compared between the CPAP-treated and control groups. For the entire group of patients, CPAP had no significant effect on LVEF, but it was associated with a 60% relative risk reduction (95% confidence interval, 2% to 64%) in mortality-cardiac transplantation rate in patients who complied with CPAP therapy. Stratified analysis of patients with and without CSR-CSA revealed that those with CSR-CSA experienced both a significant improvement in LVEF at 3 months and a relative risk reduction of 81% (95% confidence interval, 26% to 95%) in the mortality-cardiac transplantation rate of those who used CPAP. CPAP had no significant effect on either of these outcomes in patients without CSR-CSA.

CONCLUSIONS: CPAP improves cardiac function in CHF patients with CSR-CSA but not in those without it. Although not definitive, our findings also suggest that CPAP can reduce the combined mortality-cardiac transplantation rate in those CHF patients with CSR-CSA who comply with therapy.

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