JOURNAL ARTICLE

Nocturnal dyspnea and atrial fibrillation predict Cheyne-Stokes respirations in patients with congestive heart failure

J L Blackshear, J Kaplan, R C Thompson, R E Safford, E J Atkinson
Archives of Internal Medicine 1995 June 26, 155 (12): 1297-302
7778961

BACKGROUND: Cheyne-Stokes respirations have frequently been noted in highly selected groups of patients with congestive heart failure, but their prevalence in an unselected population with congestive heart failure is undefined.

METHODS: One hundred consecutive unselected outpatients or stable inpatients with clinical congestive heart failure encountered by three clinical cardiologists during a 6-month period were screened for Cheyne-Stokes respirations with overnight oximetry.

RESULTS: The mean age (+/- SD) of the patients was 70 +/- 8.6 years. Of the 100 patients, 33% had had previous coronary bypass surgery, 77% were men, 57% had hypertension, and 32% had atrial fibrillation. The mean ejection fraction (+/- SD) was 34% +/- 13%. Periodic breathing was assessed qualitatively as Cheyne-Stokes respirations in 27% of patients, nonspecific sleep-disordered breathing (apneas and/or hypopneas) in 43%, and normal in 30%. For patients with Cheyne-Stokes respirations, patients with nonspecific sleep-disordered breathing, and normal subjects, the mean numbers of oxyhemoglobin desaturation events per hour were 24, 10, and 2, and the total numbers of desaturations of 4% or more that lasted less than 3 minutes were 172, 74, and 13. Independent predictors of Cheyne-Stokes respirations vs non-Cheyne-Stokes respirations included a history of nocturnal dyspnea (odds ratio, 4.00; 95% confidence interval, 1.33 to 12.04; P = .01) and atrial fibrillation (odds ratio, 3.24; 95% confidence interval, 1.21 to 8.48; P = .02).

CONCLUSIONS: Cheyne-Stokes respirations and nonspecific sleep-disordered breathing are common in unselected patients with congestive heart failure, and Cheyne-Stokes respirations are predicted by a history of nocturnal dyspnea and the presence of atrial fibrillation. Techniques designed to modify the nocturnal breathing pattern of patients with congestive heart failure may be applicable to a large portion of the congestive heart failure population.

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