International Journal of Medical Sciences

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19 March 2018

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Int J Med Sci 2009; 6(2):72-76. doi:10.7150/ijms.6.72

Research Paper

High-intensity non-invasive positive pressure ventilation for stable hypercapnic COPD

Wolfram Windisch, Moritz Haenel, Jan H Storre, Michael Dreher

Department of Pneumology, University Hospital Freiburg, Germany


Background: The objective of the present analysis is to describe the outcomes of high-intensity non-invasive positive pressure ventilation (NPPV) aimed at maximally decreasing PaCO2 as an alternative to conventional NPPV with lower ventilator settings in stable hypercapnic COPD patients.

Methods: Physiological parameters, exacerbation rates and long-term survival were assessed in 73 COPD patients (mean FEV1 30±12 %predicted) who were established on high-intensity NPPV due to chronic hypercapnic respiratory failure between March 1997 and May 2006.

Results: Controlled NPPV with breathing frequencies of 21±3 breath/min and mean inspiratory/expiratory positive airway pressures of 28±5/5±1 cmH2O led to significant improvements in blood gases, lung function and hematocrit after two months. Only sixteen patients (22%) required hospitalisation due to exacerbation during the first year, with anaemia increasing the risk for exacerbation. Two- and five-year survival rates of all patients were 82% and 58%, respectively. The five year survival rate was 32% and 83% in patients with low (≤39%) and high (≥55%) hematocrit, respectively.

Conclusion: High-intensity NPPV improves blood gases, lung function and hematocrit, and is also associated with low exacerbation rates and a favourable long-term outcome. The current report strongly emphasises the need for randomised controlled trials evaluating the role of high-intensity NPPV in stable hypercapnic COPD patients.

Keywords: COPD, exacerbation, hematocrit, non-invasive ventilation, survival

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY-NC) License. See for full terms and conditions.
How to cite this article:
Windisch W, Haenel M, Storre JH, Dreher M. High-intensity non-invasive positive pressure ventilation for stable hypercapnic COPD. Int J Med Sci 2009; 6(2):72-76. doi:10.7150/ijms.6.72. Available from