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What are the complications of COPD hypoxia and hypoxemia?

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Damage from COPD sometimes keeps the tiny air sacs in your lungs, called alveoli, from getting enough oxygen. That's called alveolar hypoxia.

This kind of hypoxia can start a chain reaction that leads to low oxygen in your blood, or hypoxemia. In turn, hypoxemia can cause hypoxia in other parts of your body (tissue hypoxia). That happens when your blood doesn't carry enough oxygen to your tissues.

If not treated, alveolar hypoxia and hypoxemia can lead to high blood pressure in your lungs (pulmonary hypertension) and raise your risk for heart problems.

Pulmonary hypertension is often mild. But it can get worse during a COPD flare-up. In rare cases, it leads to a type of heart failure called cor pulmonale. You might need long-term oxygen therapy if you’re at risk.

Widespread inflammation from hypoxia and hypoxemia can cause you to lose muscle and make your muscles get tired faster. It may also lead to thinking problems, like slower mental speed and inattention.

To help prevent these problems, follow your doctor's recommendations for COPD treatment and healthy lifestyle changes.

SOURCES:

Mayo Clinic: “COPD,” “Hypoxemia.”

International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: “Hypoxemia in patients with COPD: cause, effects, and disease progression.”

AcuteCareTesting.org: “Emergency Assessment of Oxygenation.”

Lung India: “Mechanisms of hypoxemia,” “Guidelines for diagnosis and management of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: Joint ICS/NCCP (I) recommendations.”

Common Surgical Diseases: “Hypoxemia and Hypoxia.”

BMC Pulmonary Medicine: “Clinical, physiologic, and radiographic factors contributing to development of hypoxemia in moderate to severe COPD: a cohort study.”

Respiratory Care: “Tissue hypoxia: implications for the respiratory clinician.”

Cleveland Clinic: “COPD: What are the symptoms?”

Medicine LibreTexts: “Signs and Symptoms of Hypoxia.”

Emergency Medicine Journal: “Emergency oxygen therapy for the COPD patient.”

Annals of Thoracic Medicine: “Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: More than meets the eye.”

PlosOne: “Domiciliary high-flow treatment in patients with COPD and chronic hypoxic failure: In whom can we reduce exacerbations and hospitalizations?”

StatPearls: “High Flow Nasal Cannula.”

American Thoracic Society: “Systemic Effects of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease,” “Research Priorities in Pathophysiology for Sleep-disordered Breathing in Patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, An Official American Thoracic Society Research Statement,”  “An Official American Thoracic Society/European Respiratory Society Statement: Update on Limb Muscle Dysfunction in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.”

Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson on August 3, 2020

SOURCES:

Mayo Clinic: “COPD,” “Hypoxemia.”

International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: “Hypoxemia in patients with COPD: cause, effects, and disease progression.”

AcuteCareTesting.org: “Emergency Assessment of Oxygenation.”

Lung India: “Mechanisms of hypoxemia,” “Guidelines for diagnosis and management of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: Joint ICS/NCCP (I) recommendations.”

Common Surgical Diseases: “Hypoxemia and Hypoxia.”

BMC Pulmonary Medicine: “Clinical, physiologic, and radiographic factors contributing to development of hypoxemia in moderate to severe COPD: a cohort study.”

Respiratory Care: “Tissue hypoxia: implications for the respiratory clinician.”

Cleveland Clinic: “COPD: What are the symptoms?”

Medicine LibreTexts: “Signs and Symptoms of Hypoxia.”

Emergency Medicine Journal: “Emergency oxygen therapy for the COPD patient.”

Annals of Thoracic Medicine: “Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: More than meets the eye.”

PlosOne: “Domiciliary high-flow treatment in patients with COPD and chronic hypoxic failure: In whom can we reduce exacerbations and hospitalizations?”

StatPearls: “High Flow Nasal Cannula.”

American Thoracic Society: “Systemic Effects of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease,” “Research Priorities in Pathophysiology for Sleep-disordered Breathing in Patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, An Official American Thoracic Society Research Statement,”  “An Official American Thoracic Society/European Respiratory Society Statement: Update on Limb Muscle Dysfunction in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.”

Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson on August 3, 2020

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