Non-invasive positive pressure ventilation (CPAP or bilevel NPPV) for cardiogenic pulmonary oedema

Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013 May 31;(5):CD005351. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD005351.pub3.


Background: This is an update of a systematic review previously published in 2008 about non-invasive positive pressure ventilation (NPPV). NPPV has been widely used to alleviate signs and symptoms of respiratory distress due to cardiogenic pulmonary oedema. NPPV prevents alveolar collapse and helps redistribute intra-alveolar fluid, improving pulmonary compliance and reducing the pressure of breathing.

Objectives: To determine the effectiveness and safety of NPPV in the treatment of adult patients with cardiogenic pulmonary oedema in its acute stage.

Search methods: We searched the following databases on 20 April 2011: CENTRAL and DARE, (The Cochrane Library, Issue 2 of 4, 2011); MEDLINE (Ovid, 1950 to April 2011); EMBASE (Ovid, 1980 to April 2011); CINAHL (1982 to April 2011); and LILACS (1982 to April 2011). We also reviewed reference lists of included studies and contacted experts and equipment manufacturers. We did not apply language restrictions.

Selection criteria: We selected blinded or unblinded randomised or quasi-randomised clinical trials, reporting on adult patients with acute or acute-on-chronic cardiogenic pulmonary oedema and where NPPV (continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) or bilevel NPPV) plus standard medical care was compared with standard medical care alone.

Data collection and analysis: Two authors independently selected articles and abstracted data using a standardised data collection form. We evaluated study quality with emphasis on allocation concealment, sequence generation allocation, losses to follow-up, outcome assessors, selective outcome reporting and adherence to the intention-to-treat principle.

Main results: We included 32 studies (2916 participants), of generally low or uncertain risk of bias. Compared with standard medical care, NPPV significantly reduced hospital mortality (RR 0.66, 95% CI 0.48 to 0.89) and endotracheal intubation (RR 0.52, 95% CI 0.36 to 0.75). We found no difference in hospital length of stay with NPPV; however, intensive care unit stay was reduced by 1 day (WMD -0.89 days, 95% CI -1.33 to -0.45). Compared with standard medical care, we did not observe significant increases in the incidence of acute myocardial infarction with NPPV during its application (RR 1.24, 95% CI 0.79 to 1.95) or after (RR 0.70, 95% CI 0.11 to 4.26). We identified fewer adverse events with NPPV use (in particular progressive respiratory distress and neurological failure (coma)) when compared with standard medical care.

Authors' conclusions: NPPV in addition to standard medical care is an effective and safe intervention for the treatment of adult patients with acute cardiogenic pulmonary oedema. The evidence to date on the potential benefit of NPPV in reducing mortality is entirely derived from small-trials and further large-scale trials are needed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure
  • Heart Failure / complications*
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Positive-Pressure Respiration / adverse effects*
  • Positive-Pressure Respiration / methods
  • Pulmonary Edema / etiology
  • Pulmonary Edema / therapy*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Standard of Care