, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 701-709
Date: 02 Oct 2010

The impact of positive airway pressure on cardiac status and clinical outcomes in patients with advanced heart failure and sleep-disordered breathing: a preliminary report

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Heart failure (HF) is a major public health problem associated with high rates of morbidity and mortality. Patients with HF exhibit a high prevalence of sleep-disordered breathing (SDB). We have investigated the long-term impact of positive airway pressure (PAP) therapy on heart function and clinical outcomes in patients with advanced HF and concomitant SDB.

Materials and methods

We assessed 18 patients with advanced HF (New York Heart Association (NYHA) functional classification III–IV) and concomitant SDB (diagnosed with polysomnography) either of obstructive or central type. Eleven patients who received PAP therapy (auto-titrating PAP or adaptive servo-ventilation) for 12 months were compared with seven patients who refused this therapy. All participants were assessed at both baseline and end of follow-up for NYHA functional status, left and right ventricular function, neurohormonal activation, and exercise tolerance. The rates of hospitalization, deaths, and the combination of both were also recorded.


Patients treated with PAP achieved better functional status, higher left ventricular ejection fraction, improved longitudinal right ventricular contractile function, lower levels of b-type natriuretic peptide, and greater exercise performance compared to those who remained untreated. PAP-treated group had a significantly lower incidence of the prespecified combined end-point (i.e., hospital admissions and death) than the control group (87.5 vs. 18.2%, p = 0.013). Interestingly, the mortality rate was 28% (two out of seven patients) in the control group, while no deaths were recorded in the PAP-treated group.


In this preliminary study, we found that treatment of SDB, irrespective of type, in stable patients with advanced HF receiving optimal medical therapy was associated with improvement in cardiac functional status, ventricular contraction, physical performance, and neurohormonal status, leading to better clinical outcomes.