The aim of the present study was to assess the impact of nasal continuous positive airway pressure (nCPAP) in ischaemic stroke patients followed for 2 yrs.
Stroke patients with an apnoea–hypopnoea index =20 events·h-1 were randomised to early nCPAP (n = 71; 3–6 days after stroke onset) or conventional treatment (n = 69). The Barthel Index, Canadian Scale, Rankin Scale and Short Form-36 were measured at baseline, and at 1, 3, 12 and 24 months.
The percentage of patients with neurological improvement 1 month after stroke was significantly higher in the nCPAP group (Rankin scale 90.9 versus 56.3% (p<0.01); Canadian scale 88.2 versus 72.7% (p<0.05)). The mean time until the appearance of cardiovascular events was longer in the nCPAP group (14.9 versus 7.9 months; p = 0.044), although cardiovascular event-free survival after 24 months was similar in both groups. The cardiovascular mortality rate was 0% in the nCPAP group and 4.3% in the control group (p = 0.161).
Early use of nCPAP seems to accelerate neurological recovery and to delay the appearance of cardiovascular events, although an improvement in patients’ survival or quality of life was not shown.