Coronavirus is killing with silent hypoxia as patients’ oxygen levels drop without ANY warning – The Sun
A DOCTOR in the US has found that coronavirus patients tend to suffer life-threatening oxygen drops without noticing, which can lead to their death.
Dr Richard Levitan, who is an emergency medical practitioner in New York City, observed that patients who suffered from coronavirus were suffering from hypoxia that can lead to organ damage.
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According to an article he wrote for the New York Times, Dr Levitan has been seeing patients that had lungs filled with fluid or pus but weren't struggling to breathe until the day they arrived in hospital.
The emergency doctor said that the patients would have no idea that they had the infection until they had arrived at the emergency room when they were "often already in critical condition".
What these patients were suffering from was Hypoxia, a form of oxygen deprivation caused by hypoxemia, which occurs when there are low oxygen levels in the blood.
Dr Levitan is an emergency medicine practitioner at Bellevue Hospital in New York City, and has been teaching other medical professionals how to intubate and use ventilators for at least two decades.
Hypoxia can lead to low oxygen levels in the tissues relating to organ damage and in some cases death and can happen without much warning.
"And here is what really surprised us: These patients did not report any sensation of breathing problems, even though their chest X-rays showed diffuse pneumonia and their oxygen was below normal. How could this be?" Dr Levitan wrote in The Times.
He went on to explain that these patients were experiencing "silent hypoxia" – silent because it wasn't often detected until an advanced stage.
Coronavirus patients were not feeling the same pain and discomfort usually brought on by pneumonia including shortness of breath.
Dr Levitan wrote: "And by the time they do, they have alarmingly low oxygen levels and moderate-to-severe pneumonia (as seen on chest X-rays).
"Normal oxygen saturation for most persons at sea level is 94 per cent to 100 per cent; COVID pneumonia patients I saw had oxygen saturations as low as 50 per cent."
Because patients can still exhale carbon dioxide and because it doesn't build-up like normal pneumonia, patients don't experience difficulty breathing.
These patients breathe deeper and faster due to the low oxygen levels which can cause more damage to the lungs.
Dr Levitan said that patients could monitor their oxygen levels with a simple device called a pulse oximeter.
These are small devices that can be purchased at any pharmacy here in the UK and are available online.
Levitan says this monitoring at home could alert patients for a need for treatment before their oxygen levels dip too dangerously low.
Dr Levitan wrote: "Widespread pulse oximetry screening for Covid pneumonia – whether people check themselves on home devices or go to clinics or doctors’ offices – could provide an early warning system for the kinds of breathing problems associated with Covid pneumonia"
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