The Role of Positive Airway Pressure Therapy in Adults with Obesity Hypoventilation Syndrome. A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Rationale: Obesity hypoventilation syndrome (OHS) is an undesirable complication of severe obesity. Although weight loss is an accepted component of management, it is difficult to achieve and sustain the degree of weight loss necessary to reverse OHS. As such, positive airway pressure (PAP) during sleep has become the cornerstone therapy for most patients with OHS. However, the value of PAP therapy remains uncertain.Objective: To perform a systematic review to determine whether adults with OHS should be treated with PAP therapy or not.Methods: This systematic review informed an international, multidisciplinary panel of experts who had converged to develop a clinical practice guideline on OHS for the American Thoracic Society. MEDLINE, the Cochrane Library, and Embase were searched from January 1946 to March 2019 for studies that compared PAP therapy (i.e., continuous PAP or noninvasive ventilation) to no PAP therapy in patients with OHS. The Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development, and Evaluation (GRADE) approach was used to appraise the quality of evidence.Results: The search identified 2,994 unique articles. The full text of 56 articles was reviewed, and 25 studies were selected, including 3 randomized trials, 12 nonrandomized comparative studies, and 10 randomized and nonrandomized studies without a comparator group. Sample size ranged from 21 to 1,527 patients. PAP was associated with increased resolution of OHS and improvements in mortality, gas exchange, daytime sleepiness, sleep quality, quality of life, and emergency department visits. Nearly half of patients experienced trivial adverse effects related to PAP therapy. Certainty in the estimated effects was low or very low for most outcomes.Conclusions: The panel made a conditional (i.e., weak) recommendation that PAP therapy during sleep be offered to patients with OHS to improve outcomes. This recommendation was based on very low-quality evidence.


  • Afshar, Majid
  • Brozek, Jan
  • Soghier, Israa
  • Kakazu, Maximiliano Tamae
  • Wilson, Kevin C
  • Masa, Juan Fernando
  • Mokhlesi, Babak

publication date

  • March 2020