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Positive airway pressure in obesity hypoventilation syndrome: is it worth it?
  1. Amanda Piper1,
  2. Jean Louis Pépin2,
  3. Nicholas Hart3,4
  1. 1 Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  2. 2 HP2 laboratory, INSERM U1042, University Grenoble Alpes, and EFCR Laboratory, Grenoble Alpes University Hospital, Grenoble, France
  3. 3 Lane Fox Respiratory Service, Guy's & St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK
  4. 4 Lane Fox Clinical Respiratory Physiology Research Centre, Centre for Human Applied Physiological Science, School of Medical and Biomedical Sciences, King’s College London, London, United Kingdom
  1. Correspondence to Dr Amanda Piper; amanda.piper{at}

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Over the past decade, increasing attention has been paid to the evaluation and management of obesity hypoventilation syndrome (OHS).1 This disorder is characterised by daytime hypercapnia and three main phenotypes of sleep disordered breathing, including severe obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), combined OSA and OHS and isolated OHS.2 Rising rates of global obesity along with a greater awareness of the significant health and social costs of this disorder have been driving factors fuelling interest in how best to manage those with OHS. Although the cornerstone of treatment has been to address sleep breathing abnormalities using positive airway pressure (PAP) therapy, the mode of therapy which optimises outcomes in the most cost-effective manner has been less clear.3–6

In many centres, OHS has become a major indication for home ventilation, with most individuals prescribed bilevel therapy.7 However, OHS can present as chronic respiratory failure as a consequence of OSA, OSA and OHS or lone OHS, with the OSA and OSA-OHS phenotypes accounting for more than 90% of individuals diagnosed with OHS, 70% of whom will have apnoea-hypopnea indices>30 events/hour.4 Although continuous single level PAP therapy (CPAP) does not directly provide inspiratory assistance to increase tidal volumes, correction of upper airway obstruction in conjunction with increased resting lung volumes, resetting of the respiratory centres, reduced WOB and prevention of expiratory flow limitation8 can improve gas exchange, alleviate symptoms and improve quality of life. Several medium-term randomised studies3 5 6 and one long term randomised trial9 comparing CPAP to bilevel therapy have failed to find significant differences between these therapies in terms of resolving waking chronic respiratory failure, improving quality of life, therapy adherence, …

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  • Contributors All authors were involved in the writing, editing and reviewing the submitted work.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests AJP reports personal fees from ResMed, Philips and Sanofi Genzyme for lecturing; clinical advisory board membership for Philips on the management of COPD. JLP reports grants and personal fees from ResMed, Philips, Agiradom, Astra Zeneca, SEFAM; research support from Mutualia and Air Liquide Foundation; grants from Fisher and Paykel and Vitalaire; he has also received personal fees from JAZZ pharmaceuticals and ITAMAR. NH reports personal fees for lecturing from Philips, Resmed, Fisher-Paykel held by Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity; unrestricted grants from Philips, Resmed and Fisher Paykel, with the funds held and managed by Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust; financial support from Philips for development of the MYOTRACE technology that has patent filed in Europe (US patent pending); membership of the Pulmonary Research Advisory Board for Philips with the funds for this role held by Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust; and is Joint Editor-in-Chief for Thorax.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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