Chronic high carbon dioxide levels in the blood associated with more hospitalizations and death

Patients with obesity are especially at risk.

10:23 AM

Author | Kelly Malcom

lungs drawn in blue ink with lab note written on bottom right with yellow background and blue text
Michigan Medicine

Hypercapnia is a build-up of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the blood. It occurs when tiny air sacs in the lungs called alveoli are unable to adequately exchange CO2 from the blood for oxygen.

This form of respiratory failure can come on suddenly, with causes such as infection or an opioid overdose and is particularly dangerous, often landing patients in intensive care. However, the condition can also become chronic in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, also commonly referred to as COPD, obesity or neuromuscular disease.

In a recent study published in Annals of the American Thoracic Society, Phillip Choi, M.D., Matthew W. Wilson, M.D., and Wassim W. Labaki, M.D., of the Michigan Medicine Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care reviewed 491 cases of chronic hypercapnia at Michigan Medicine and found that even in patients with a normal blood pH, the condition was associated with worse health outcomes, including more hospitalizations and deaths.

They found that every 5mmHg increase in PaCO2, the unit of measurement of carbon dioxide in the blood, was associated with a higher risk of all-cause death. This finding was notable, said the researchers, as a normal pH may lead clinicians to believe these patients aren't at risk.

Despite this, they write, "our study shows that even short term, patients are extremely vulnerable. With nearly half of the patients dying in a 2.5-year period, this mortality rate exceeds that of many malignancies."

Paper cited: "Mortality and Healthcare Utilization of Patients with Compensated Hypercapnia," Annals of the American Thoracic SocietyDOI: 10.1513/AnnalsATS.202009-1197OC


More Articles About: Lab Notes Lung Disease Lung Function Lungs and Breathing Chronic Respiratory Insufficiency
Health Lab word mark overlaying blue cells
Health Lab

Explore a variety of health care news & stories by visiting the Health Lab home page for more articles.

Media Contact Public Relations

Department of Communication at Michigan Medicine

[email protected]

734-764-2220

Stay Informed

Want top health & research news weekly? Sign up for Health Lab’s newsletters today!

Subscribe
Featured News & Stories woman smiling with white short hair and earrings dark with orange background
Health Lab
Using biologic injections for severe asthma after COVID
Biologic injections end up being the best treatment for treating severe asthma after having COVID for one patient.
left mom and son holding hands in blue long sleeves with medals on after run and on right young man standing in red sleeves top with sunglasses on sunny smiling
Health Lab
Despite tremendous hurdles, a young man is thankful for “the ultimate gift of life”
Young man with cystic fibrosis gets organ donation that changes his life
colorful illustration with human figure and highlighted lungs
Health Lab
Multimodal AI model may guide personalized treatments for tuberculosis
AI approach helps researchers interpret large biomedical data sets to accurately predict tuberculosis treatment prognosis
Provider takes a pulse oximetry reading from a patient's finger
Health Lab
Inaccurate pulse oximeter readings could limit transplants, heart pumps for Black patients with heart failure
Racially biased readings of oxygen levels in the blood using pulse oximeters may further limit opportunities for Black patients with heart failure to receive potentially lifesaving treatments, such as heart pumps and transplants
An unconscious woman lies on a hospital table while a clinician's glove is seen placing an oxygen mask over her nose and mouth
Health Lab
Hispanic patients with respiratory failure much more likely to be oversedated
Hispanic individuals who are hospitalized with respiratory failure are five times more likely than non-Hispanic patients to receive deep sedation while on a ventilator, according to a new study published in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society.
sketched out bacteria in a dish yellow and blue colors of U-M
Health Lab
Bacteria in the mouth linked to pulmonary fibrosis survival
Bacteria in the mouth may play a role in survival from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).