Background: There has been no comprehensive longitudinal study of pulmonary functions (PFTS) in ALS determining which measure is most sensitive to declines in respiratory muscle strength. Objective: To determine the longitudinal decline of PFTS in ALS and which measure supports Medicare criteria for NIV initiation first. Methods: Serial PFTs (maximum voluntary ventilation (MVV), maximum inspiratory pressure measured by mouth (MIP) or nasal sniff pressure (SNIP), maximum expiratory pressure (MEP), and Forced Vital Capacity (FVC)) were performed over 12 months on 73 ALS subjects to determine which measure showed the sentinel decline in pulmonary function. The rate of decline for each measure was determined as the median slope of the decrease over time. Medicare-based NIV initiation criteria were met if %FVC was ≤ 50% predicted or MIP was ≤ 60 cMH2O. Results: 65 subjects with at least 3 visits were included for analyses. All median slopes were significantly different than zero. MEP and sitting FVC demonstrated the largest rate of decline. Seventy subjects were analyzed for NIV initiation criteria, 69 met MIP criteria first; 11 FVC and MIP criteria simultaneously and none FVC criteria first. Conclusions: MEP demonstrated a steeper decline compared to other measures suggesting expiratory muscle strength declines earliest and faster and the use of airway clearance interventions should be initiated early. When Medicare criteria for NIV initiation are considered, MIP criteria are met earliest. These results suggest that pressure-based measurements are important in assessing the timing of NIV and the use of pulmonary clearance interventions.

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Published in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and Frontotemporal Degeneration, v. 22, issue sup1.

© 2021 The Author(s)

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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This work was supported by NIH RO1 Number 3046960400 and the ALS Hope Foundation.

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