Purpose: To analyze the relationship between hypercapnia developing within the first 48 h after the start of mechanical ventilation and outcome in patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Patients and methods: We performed a secondary analysis of three prospective non-interventional cohort studies focusing on ARDS patients from 927 intensive care units (ICUs) in 40 countries. These patients received mechanical ventilation for more than 12 h during 1-month periods in 1998, 2004, and 2010. We used multivariable logistic regression and a propensity score analysis to examine the association between hypercapnia and ICU mortality. Main outcomes: We included 1899 patients with ARDS in this study. The relationship between maximum PaCO2 in the first 48 h and mortality suggests higher mortality at or above PaCO2 of ≥50 mmHg. Patients with severe hypercapnia (PaCO2 ≥50 mmHg) had higher complication rates, more organ failures, and worse outcomes. After adjusting for age, SAPS II score, respiratory rate, positive end-expiratory pressure, PaO2/FiO2 ratio, driving pressure, pressure/volume limitation strategy (PLS), corrected minute ventilation, and presence of acidosis, severe hypercapnia was associated with increased risk of ICU mortality [odds ratio (OR) 1.93, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.32 to 2.81; p = 0.001]. In patients with severe hypercapnia matched for all other variables, ventilation with PLS was associated with higher ICU mortality (OR 1.58, CI 95% 1.04–2.41; p = 0.032). Conclusions: Severe hypercapnia appears to be independently associated with higher ICU mortality in patients with ARDS. Trial registration: Clinicaltrials.gov identifier, NCT01093482.
- Acute respiratory distress syndrome
- ICU mortality
- Mechanical ventilation