Acute decompensated heart failure (ADHF) is responsible for a heavy clinical load on busy emergency departments (EDs) across the globe and especially in India. ADHF patients may present with severe respiratory distress, dyspnea, hypoxia, and high and low blood pressures. Managing the airway of such patients can at times be challenging. Nasal cannulae, face mask, and noninvasive positive pressure ventilation (NIPPV) are the cornerstones of providing oxygenation and ventilation to such patients while some extreme cases may require endotracheal intubation and mechanical ventilation.
An elderly female in severe respiratory distress and altered sensorium presented to our ED and had to be administered ketamine to facilitate proper NIPPV and avoid mechanical ventilation. She was weaned off the NIPPV in the ED itself over the next four hours. There are some case reports of using ketamine for NIPPV in asthma exacerbations, but none for the use in ADHF. Avoiding invasive mechanical ventilation via endotracheal intubation should be a constant goal and the last resort.
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