What is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP)?
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is one of two cardinal modes of noninvasive ventilation (bilevel positive airway pressure, or BPAP, is the other).
As the name suggests, CPAP provides continuous pressure throughout the respiratory cycle.
When a patient on CPAP breathes in, the ventilator machine will provide one constant pressure during the inspiration. When the patient then breathes out, the ventilator will continue that inward pressure during the entire expiration.
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Ventilator settings for CPAP
The ventilator settings for CPAP are the following:
- One single pressure, measured in cm of water (cmH2O)
- The fraction of inhaled oxygen (FIO2), set between 21% and 100%
Common clinical uses for CPAP
CPAP is commonly used for patients with the following respiratory disorders:
- Acute pulmonary edema
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Obesity hypoventilation syndrome (Pickwickian syndrome)
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- Garpestad, E, Brennan, J, and Hill, NS. 2007. Noninvasive ventilation. Chest. 132: 711–720. PMID: 17699147
- Hillberg, RE and Johnson, DC. 1997. Noninvasive ventilation. N Engl J Med. 337: 1746–1752. PMID: 9392701