Intensive care in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease : treatment with non-invasive ventilation and long-term outcome
Abstract: Background: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a major cause of chronic morbidity and mortality throughout the world. When we began this project our knowledge about the outcome of COPD patients admitted to the ICU in Sweden was scarce.Aims: To investigate the characteristics, survival and health-related quality of life (HRQL) of COPD patients admitted to Swedish ICUs. To investigate how ICU personnel decide whether to use invasive or non-invasive ventilatory treatment (NIV) of the newly admitted COPD patient in need of ventilatory support. To investigate outcome according to mode of ventilation.Material and methods: Detailed data, including HRQL during recovery, from COPD patients admitted to ICUs that participated in the Swedish intensive care registry were analysed. A questionnaire was distributed to personnel in 6 of the participating ICUs in order to define factors deemed important in making the choice between invasive and non-invasive ventilation immediately after admission. The answers were analysed.Results: The proportion of COPD patients admitted to Swedish ICUs in need of ventilatory support is 1.3-1.6 % of all admissions. The patients are around 70 years-old and are severely ill on admission, with high respiratory rates and most have life-threatening disturbances in their acid-base balance and blood gases. There are more women than men. The short- and long-term mortality is high despite intensive care treatment. The majority of patients are treated with NIV. The length of stay on the ICU is shorter when NIV is used. The choice between NIV and invasive ventilation in these patients may be irrational. It is guided by current guidelines, but other non-patient-related factors seem to influence this decision. NIV seems to be preferable to invasive ventilation at admission, not only according to short-term benefits but also to long-term survival. Failure of NIV followed by invasive ventilation does not have a poorer prognosis than directly employing invasive ventilation. The health-related quality of life of COPD patients after treatment on Swedish ICUs is lower than in the general population. However it does not decline between 6 and 24 months after ICU discharge. After 24 months the HRQL is quite similar to that of COPD patients not treated on the ICU.Conclusions: COPD patients in need of ventilatory support admitted to Swedish ICUs are severely ill on admission, and their short- and long-term mortality is high despite ICU care and ventilatory treatment. Non-invasive ventilation should be the first line treatment on admission. NIV has short- and long-term benefits compared to invasive ventilation, without increasing mortality risk in case of failure. After discharge from the ICU and recovery, the HRQL of COPD patients is lower than in the general population, but comparable to COPD patients not treated on the ICU.
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