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Nasal continuous positive airway pressure (NCPAP) has been reported to improve daytime symptoms in patients with sleep disordered breathing due to heart failure. To examine this in a controlled manner, eight men with stable chronic heart failure (mean left ventricular ejection fraction 18% and mean frusemide dose 160 mg) were entered into a controlled trial of domiciliary nocturnal NCPAP. At polysomnography (with sleep apnea quantified as the number of > 4% dips in arterial saturation per hour), seven had nocturnal Cheyne-Stokes respiration (SaO2 dip rate 3 to 27/hr), and one both central and obstructive apneas (SaO2 dip rate 8/hr). After 2 wk nocturnal domiciliary NCPAP at < 1.5 cm H2O (placebo) and 7.5 cm H2O (active) in random order, bicycle exercise tolerance and heart failure symptoms (modified Likert questionnaire) were assessed by an observer unaware of the patients' NCPAP status. Pulse oximetry (all subjects) and radionuclide estimated left ventricular ejection fraction (three subjects) were also measured at the end of each period. Two subjects withdrew from the study because of worsening heart failure during active NCPAP (7.5 cm H2O), and one of these subjects died. In the remaining six subjects exercise tolerance, symptom scores, and the severity of sleep apnea were similar on active NCPAP compared with placebo. When it was measured, resting left ventricular ejection fraction was lower on active therapy than on placebo. These data exclude a 25% improvement in exercise tolerance with 95% confidence and suggest that a study of 160 subjects would be needed to exclude a 10% change in symptom score.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Original publication




Journal article


Am Rev Respir Dis

Publication Date





630 - 634


Cheyne-Stokes Respiration, Chronic Disease, Double-Blind Method, Evaluation Studies as Topic, Exercise Test, Exercise Tolerance, Heart Failure, Humans, Male, Polysomnography, Positive-Pressure Respiration, Sleep Apnea Syndromes, Ventricular Function, Left