Objective: To compare the effects of oxygen, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), and bilevel positive airway pressure (bilevel-PAP) on the rate of endotracheal intubation in patients with acute cardiogenic pulmonary edema.
Design: Randomized, controlled trial.
Setting: Tertiary hospital emergency room.
Patients: We randomly assigned 80 patients with severe cardiogenic acute pulmonary edema into three treatment groups. Patients were followed for 60 days after the randomization.
Interventions: Oxygen applied by face mask, CPAP, and bilevel-PAP.
Measurements and main results: The rate of endotracheal intubation as well as vital signs and blood gases was recorded during the first 24 hrs. Mortality was evaluated at 15 days, at 60 days, and at hospital discharge. Complications related to respiratory support were evaluated before hospital discharge. Treatment with CPAP or bilevel-PAP resulted in significant improvement in the PaO2/FiO2 ratio, subjective dyspnea score, and respiratory and heart rates compared with oxygen therapy. Endotracheal intubation was necessary in 11 of 26 patients (42%) in the oxygen group but only in two of 27 patients (7%) in each noninvasive ventilation group (p = .001). There was no increase in the incidence of acute myocardial infarction in the CPAP or bilevel-PAP groups. Mortality at 15 days was higher in the oxygen than in the CPAP or bilevel-PAP groups (p < .05). Mortality up to hospital discharge was not significantly different among groups (p = .061).
Conclusions: Compared with oxygen therapy, CPAP and bilevel-PAP resulted in similar vital signs and arterial blood gases and a lower rate of endotracheal intubation. No cardiac ischemic complications were associated with either of the noninvasive ventilation strategies.