Nocturnal hypoxaemia is associated with increased mortality in stable heart failure patients

Eur Heart J. 2016 Jun 1;37(21):1695-703. doi: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehv624. Epub 2015 Nov 26.


Aim: This study investigated the prognostic value of sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) in a large cohort of patients with heart failure with reduced left ventricular function (HF-REF), with focus on the role of nocturnal hypoxaemia.

Methods: This single-centre prospective cohort study enrolled patients with chronic stable HF-REF (NYHA ≥II) receiving guideline-based treatment. Unattended in-hospital polygraphy was performed to determine the apnoea-hypopnoea index (AHI). Pulse oximetry was used to determine hypoxaemic burden [time with oxygen saturation <90% (T90)], and all-cause mortality was recorded.

Results: Complete data were available for 963 of 1249 patients. At baseline, 58% of patients had moderate-to-severe SDB. The median follow-up was 7.35 years; 480 of 963 (49.8%) patients died. Mortality rate (per 100 person-years) was 8.1 [95% confidence interval (CI) 7.0-9.4] in patients with no or mild SDB, but 12.2 (95% CI 10.9-13.7) in moderate-to-severe SDB. Apnoea-hypopnoea index was significantly associated with time to death from any cause in a simple Cox model [hazard ratio (HR) 1.011, P < 0.001], but was no longer significant after adjustment for confounding factors (HR 1.005, P = 0.085). T90 was significantly (P < 0.001) associated with time to death from any cause even after adjustment for confounding factors. The risk of death increased by 16.1% (95% CI 8.6-24.2) per hour of T90. Five-year survival probabilities for patients in T90 quartiles 1, 2, 3, and 4 were 70, 63, 60, and 50%, respectively.

Conclusion: Hypoxaemic burden was a robust and independent predictor of all-cause mortality in chronic stable HF-REF patients. Whether or not targeting nocturnal hypoxaemia is associated with beneficial effects on mortality in HF-REF patients remains to be determined.

Keywords: Heart failure; Hypoxaemia; Mortality; Sleep-disordered breathing.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Female
  • Heart Failure / mortality*
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia / mortality*
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Male
  • Oximetry
  • Polysomnography
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sleep Apnea, Central / mortality*
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / mortality*