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Mechanical ventilation means having a machine help you breathe. If you have COPD, you may need this treatment when your breathing problems suddenly get worse and stay worse. These breathing attacks are called COPD exacerbations or flare-ups.
This treatment is usually used until you are able to breathe better. In rare cases, it is used as long-term therapy in your home or a care facility.
There are two kinds of ventilation:
The full name for this is noninvasive positive-pressure ventilation, sometimes shortened to NPPV. A machine pushes air into your lungs through a mask that covers your nose or your nose and mouth.
But studies also show that people with only mild COPD attacks aren't helped by this treatment.1
It's not clear whether this treatment helps people with severe stable COPD. Studies have shown conflicting results. Some research shows a possible positive benefit. Other research shows no benefit.3 More study needs to be done.
People who have very low blood pressure, are not breathing on their own, and are not fully able to think and interact with caregivers are not considered good candidates for this treatment. For them, invasive mechanical ventilation is considered safer.
In invasive mechanical ventilation, a breathing tube is inserted into your windpipe, and a machine forces air into your lungs.
Although this can save your life during a COPD attack, it doesn't always help. Consider talking with your doctor and your family ahead of time about what kind of treatment you want.
- Keenan SP, et al. (2003). Which patients with acute exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease benefit from noninvasive positive-pressure ventilation? Annals of Internal Medicine, 138: 861–870.
- Ram FSF, et al. (2005). Non-invasive positive pressure ventilation for treatment of respiratory failure due to exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (2). Oxford: Update Software.
- Wijkstra PJ, et al. (2005). Nocturnal non-invasive positive pressure ventilation for stable chronic obstructive disease. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (2). Oxford: Update Software.
|Primary Medical Reviewer||E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Ken Y. Yoneda, MD - Pulmonology|
|Last Revised||November 29, 2011|
Last Revised: November 29, 2011
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