Noninvasive continuous positive airway pressure in elderly cardiogenic pulmonary edema patients

Intensive Care Med. 2004 May;30(5):882-8. doi: 10.1007/s00134-004-2183-y. Epub 2004 Feb 28.


Objective: To compare the physiological effects and the clinical efficacy of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) vs standard medical treatment in elderly patients (> or =75 years) with acute hypoxemic respiratory failure related to cardiogenic pulmonary edema.

Design: A prospective, randomized, concealed, and unblinded study of 89 consecutive patients who were admitted to the emergency departments of one general, and three teaching, hospitals.

Intervention: Patients were randomly assigned to receive standard medical treatment alone ( n=46) or standard medical treatment plus CPAP ( n=43).

Measurements: Improvement in PaO(2)/FIO(2) ratio, complications, length of hospital stay, early 48-h and overall mortality, compared between the CPAP and standard treatment groups.

Results: Study groups were comparable with regard to baseline physiological and clinical characteristics (age, sex ratio, autonomy, medical history, cause of pulmonary edema). Within 1 h, noninvasive continuous positive airway pressure led to decreased respiratory rate (respiratory rate, 27+/-7 vs 35+/-6 breaths/min; p=0.009), and improved oxygenation (PaO(2)/F(I)O(2), 306+/-104 vs 157+/-71; p=0.004) compared with baseline, whereas no differences were observed within the standard treatment group. Severe complications occurred in 17 patients in the standard treatment group, vs 4 patients in the noninvasive continuous positive airway pressure group ( p=0.002). Early 48-h mortality was 7% in the noninvasive continuous positive airway pressure group, compared with 24% in the standard treatment group ( p=0.017); however, no sustained benefits were observed during the overall hospital stay.

Conclusion: Noninvasive continuous positive airway pressure promotes early clinical improvement in elderly patients attending emergency departments for a severe pulmonary edema, but only reduces early 48-h mortality.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intubation, Intratracheal
  • Male
  • Oxygen / therapeutic use*
  • Pulmonary Edema / complications*
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome* / etiology
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome* / mortality
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome* / therapy
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Oxygen