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The use of protriptyline for respiratory failure in patients with chronic airflow limitation.

Author(s): Carroll N, Parker RA, Branthwaite MA

Affiliation(s): Brompton Hospital, London, UK.

Publication date & source: 1990-07, Eur Respir J., 3(7):746-51.

Publication type: Clinical Trial; Randomized Controlled Trial

Treatment of nocturnal hypoventilation in patients with restrictive chest wall disease and respiratory failure, results in improved daytime arterial blood gas tensions, increase in functional ability and longer survival. Success has been achieved with the use of protriptyline which reduces the duration of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep during which nocturnal hypoventilation occurs. Eighteen patients with severe chronic airflow limitation (CAL), took part in a randomized, double-blind, crossover trial of protriptyline and placebo. Seventeen patients completed the study. The use of protriptyline was associated with a fall in the median percentage of total sleep time spent in REM from 16 to 8.8% (p less than 0.01). This was associated with a reduction in the median daytime arterial carbon dioxide tension from 6.4 kPa (range 5.2-8.5 kPa) to 5.8 kPa (range 5.0-8.1 kPa) (p less than 0.01); increased respiratory muscle strength (p less than 0.05), and increased six minute walking distance from a median of 258 m (range 58.5-585 m) to 275 m (range 171-598 m) (p less than 0.02). We found pharmacological treatment of REM-related nocturnal hypoventilation in patients with CAL to be effective, but anticholinergic side-effects, particularly in older male patients, might preclude long-term treatment.

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