Jaber Hassan, MD, of the Blount Memorial Sleep Health Center, says that recent advances in noninvasive ventilator support using BPAP or BiPAP systems have notably decreased patients’ with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) chances of needing an invasive ventilator.

A news release from Blount Memorial Hospital indicates that sleep apnea patients typically use a CPAP system to aid breathing at night, and Hassan says these devices are making advances with patients whose respiratory failure is a result of COPD.

Hassan states, “People with severe COPD still can live long, decent lives, providing that their health care is maximized. Still, they’re prone to life-threatening flare-ups that often can require hospitalization and mechanical ventilation to help them recover.” BPAP or BiPAP systems use a mask to deliver air pressure instead of requiring a tube to be placed in the trachea. These systems are very similar to a CPAP, which has shortened hospitals stays, has helped prevent the overall deterioration of quality of life, and reduced the costs incurred with using a ventilator, according to Hassan.

Hassan explains that BPAP systems help rest the breathing muscles of patients at night, and “with the right patient, the use of a BPAP machine at night can improve carbon dioxide and oxygen levels during the day on a chronic basis.” Hassan states, “Much of the evidence for the BPAP’s effectiveness was speculative until a study released this fall in The Lancet journal found that patients with severe COPD and high carbon dioxide levels had a remarkable drop in mortality rates and an improved overall quality of life.”

He believes the results of the study will have a very positive impact on COPD treatments and the positive effect is expected to be more pronounced in patients with sleep apnea and COPD.

Hassan expects COPD will continue to be a disease on the rise. Hassan declares, “Baby boomers that have developed severe COPD are becoming a major challenge due to frequent hospitalizations, the increasing costs of medicine and the drop in quality of life they experience.” He adds, “However, with careful monitoring, maximization of care, vaccination, screening for sleep apnea and consideration of home BPAP systems when appropriate, we potentially can make remarkable reductions in the effects of COPD.”

Source: Blount Memorial Hospital