Effects of High-Flow Nasal Cannula on Right Heart Dysfunction in Patients with Acute-on-Chronic Respiratory Failure and Pulmonary Hypertension

J Clin Med. 2023 Aug 23;12(17):5472. doi: 10.3390/jcm12175472.


High-flow nasal cannula (HFNC) has several benefits in patients affected by different forms of acute respiratory failure, based on its own mechanisms. We postulated that HFNC may have some advantages over conventional oxygen therapy (COT) on the heart function in patients with acute-on-chronic respiratory failure with concomitant pulmonary hypertension (PH). We therefore designed this retrospective observational study to assess if HFNC improves the right and left ventricle functions and morphologies, arterial blood gases (ABGs), and patients' dyspnea, compared to COT. We enrolled 17 hospitalized patients receiving HFNC, matched with 17 patients receiving COT. Echocardiographic evaluation was performed at the time of admission (baseline) and 10 days after (T10). HFNC showed significant improvements in right ventricular morphology and function, and a reduction in sPAP. However, there were no significant changes in the left heart measurements with HFNC application. Conversely, COT did not lead to any modifications in echocardiographic measurements. In both groups, oxygenation significantly improved from baseline to T10 (in the HFNC group, from 155 ± 47 to 204 ± 61 mmHg while in the COT group, from 157 ± 27 to 207 ± 27 mmHg; p < 0.0001 for both comparisons). In conclusion, these data suggest an improvement of oxygenation with both treatments; however, only HFNC was able to improve the right ventricular morphology and function after 10 days from the beginning of treatment in a small cohort of patients with acute-on-chronic respiratory failure with PH.

Keywords: acute-on-chronic respiratory failure; conventional oxygen therapy; echocardiography; hemodynamic; high-flow nasal cannula; high-flow nasal therapy; pulmonary hypertension; right ventricle.

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.