CO2 must not be missing in oxygen therapy
In order to really supply the body with sufficient oxygen during an oxygen treatment, according to Steve Iscoe, the ventilators have to deliver a pinch of carbon dioxide at the same time. If doctors and paramedics don't heed this, they could do more harm than good to their patients, warns the scientist working at Queens University in Kingston, Canada.
The problem, Iscoe says, is that pure oxygen pushes CO2 out of the veins. The body then contracts its blood vessels, so that the vessels are supplied with O2 much less than without therapy. On the other hand, a small amount of carbon dioxide dilates the veins and thus improves the blood supply.
The effect of CO2 on blood flow is no longer even known to many experts today, although it is used in many traditional practices. As an example, Iscoe cites mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, where the rescue breath also contains carbon dioxide.
O2 ventilation is performed when a patient or his/her organs are in acute oxygen deficiency, as occurs in the event of a heart attack and stroke or poisoning with smoke and carbon monoxide. Preterm infants also often receive respiratory support with oxygen therapy to prevent brain damage from insufficient O2.
Already last year, Australian physicians pointed out that normal air is more suitable for ventilating newborn children than pure oxygen. According to Iscoe and his co-author Joseph Fisher of Toronto General Hospital, the optimal CO2 concentration for enriching the oxygen flow of ventilators must now be determined.