BACKGROUND: Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment for acute cardiogenic pulmonary edema can have important benefits in acute cardiac care. However, coronary care units are usually not equipped and their personnel not adequately trained for applying CPAP with mechanical ventilators. Therefore we investigated in the coronary care unit setting the feasibility and outcome of the simple Boussignac mask-CPAP (BCPAP) system that does not need a mechanical ventilator.
METHODS: BCPAP was introduced in a coronary care unit where staff had no CPAP experience. All consecutive patients transported to our hospital with acute cardiogenic pulmonary edema, a respiratory rate > 25 breaths/min and a peripheral arterial oxygen saturation of < 95% while receiving oxygen, were included in a prospective BCPAP group that was compared with a historical control group that received conventional treatment with oxygen alone.
RESULTS: During the 2-year prospective BCPAP study period 108 patients were admitted with acute cardiogenic pulmonary edema. Eighty-four of these patients (78%) were treated at the coronary care unit of which 66 (61%) were treated with BCPAP. During the control period 66 patients were admitted over a 1-year period of whom 31 (47%) needed respiratory support in the intensive care unit. BCPAP treatment was associated with a reduced hospital length of stay and fewer transfers to the intensive care unit for intubation and mechanical ventilation. Overall estimated savings of approximately euro 3,800 per patient were achieved with the BCPAP strategy compared to conventional treatment.
CONCLUSION: At the coronary care unit, BCPAP was feasible, medically effective, and cost-effective in the treatment of acute cardiogenic pulmonary edema. Endpoints included mortality, coronary care unit and hospital length of stay, need of ventilatory support, and cost (savings).
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