Small breaths of air are better than large ones, at least when mechanical ventilators are used for intensive care patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), according to a large clinical trial halted prematurely to alert critical care specialists about the new findings.
The Data and Safety Monitoring Board of the ARDS Network Study of Ventilator Management in ARDS decided to halt the trial on March 10 after data on the first 800 patients showed about 25% fewer deaths among patients receiving relatively small breaths (6 mL/kg) compared with those receiving relatively large breaths (12 mL/kg) of oxygen-enriched air. The trial, which was performed by a consortium of clinical centers and sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), originally planned to include 1000 patients and was scheduled to end at the end of 1999.
Stephenson J. Better Breathing. JAMA. 1999;281(15):1368. doi:10.1001/jama.281.15.1368