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In patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), inflammatory changes impact their ability to breathe properly. Patients will eventually retain carbon dioxide (CO2) as their efforts to maintain normal CO2levels proves difficult. Experts have long debated whether chronically elevated carbon dioxide levels affect how a patient handles oxygen. As a result, a theory developed that administering oxygen obliterated the drive to breathe.

The problem with the Hypoxic Drive Theory is that it’s a myth concocted on incomplete evidence and often elicits a controversial response, according to John Bottrell, RT, Spectrum Health Ludington Hospital, and COPD/asthma expert for healthcentral.com.

For hypoxemic patients with COPD, most medical experts now recommend administering the lowest amount of oxygen needed to maintain SpO2 of 88% to 92%, according to Bottrell.

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