Background Non-invasive ventilation (NIV) is increasingly being implemented by many ambulance jurisdictions as a standard of care in the out-of-hospital management of acute cardiogenic pulmonary oedema (ACPO). This implementation appears to be based on the body of evidence from the emergency department (ED) setting, with the assumption that earlier administration by paramedics would give benefits with regard to inhospital mortality and the rate of endotracheal intubation beyond those seen when initiated in the ED. This paper sought to identify and review the current level of evidence supporting NIV in the prehospital setting.
Methods Electronic searches of Medline, EMBASE, CINAHL, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews and Cochrane Database of Controlled Trials were conducted and reference lists of relevant articles were hand searched.
Results The search identified 12 primary studies documenting the use of NIV, either continuous positive airway pressure or bi-level non-invasive ventilation, for ACPO in the out-of-hospital setting. Only three studies were randomised controlled trials, with none addressing inhospital mortality as a primary outcome measure. The majority of articles were non-comparative descriptive studies.
Conclusion Early prehospital NIV appears to be a safe and feasible therapy that results in faster improvement in physiological status and may decrease the need for intubation when compared with delayed administration in the ED. There is weak evidence that is may decrease mortality. The cost versus benefit equation of system-wide prehospital implementation of NIV is unclear and, based on the current evidence, should be considered with caution.
- Cardiac care
- continuous positive airway pressure
- emergency ambulance systems
- emergency medical services
- heart failure
- non-invasive ventilation
- pulmonary oedema
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Competing interests None.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.