Background: Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) who survive an episode of acute hypercapnic respiratory failure (AHRF) after treatment with non-invasive ventilation (NIV) have a high risk of recurrent AHRF. We hypothesised that continuation of NIV at home in these patients would reduce the likelihood of recurrent AHRF.
Methods: A pilot prospective randomised controlled study was designed to compare continuation of active home NIV and continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) 5 cm H(2)O (controls) in COPD patients who had survived an episode of AHRF treated with acute NIV. Patients with significant obstructive sleep apnoea, non-COPD causes of AHRF, adverse psychosocial circumstances and serious comorbidities were excluded. The primary end-point was recurrent AHRF requiring acute NIV, intubation or resulting in death in the first year.
Results: Twenty-three patients were randomised to receive home NIV and 24 received CPAP. There was no significant difference in the baseline characteristics between the two study groups. The proportion of patients developing recurrent AHRF in the NIV and the CPAP groups was 38.5% vs. 60.2% at 1 year (P = 0.039). Four and eight patients, respectively, were withdrawn from the CPAP and NIV groups before the end of the pre-defined study duration.
Conclusions: In selected COPD patients with AHRF treated with acute NIV, continuation with home NIV is associated with a lower risk of recurrent severe COPD exacerbation with AHRF when compared with CPAP.