Background: Although high-intensity non-invasive ventilation has been shown to improve outcomes in stable COPD, it may adversely affect cardiac performance. Therefore, the aims of the present pilot study were to compare cardiac and pulmonary effects of 6 weeks of low-intensity non-invasive ventilation and 6 weeks of high-intensity non-invasive ventilation in stable COPD patients.
Methods: In a randomised crossover pilot feasibility study, the change in cardiac output after 6 weeks of each NIV mode compared to baseline was assessed with echocardiography in 14 severe stable COPD patients. Furthermore, CO during NIV, gas exchange, lung function, and health-related quality of life were investigated.
Results: Three patients dropped out: two deteriorated on low-intensity non-invasive ventilation, and one presented with decompensated heart failure while on high-intensity non-invasive ventilation. Eleven patients were included in the analysis. In general, cardiac output and NTproBNP did not change, although individual effects were noticed, depending on the pressures applied and/or the co-existence of heart failure. High-intensity non-invasive ventilation tended to be more effective in improving gas exchange, but both modes improved lung function and the health-related quality of life.
Conclusions: Long-term non-invasive ventilation with adequate pressure to improve gas exchange and health-related quality of life did not have an overall adverse effect on cardiac performance. Nevertheless, in patients with pre-existing heart failure, the application of very high inspiratory pressures might reduce cardiac output.