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Health Info

Monitoring Blood Oxygen

Blood oxygen level is the amount of oxygen circulating in the blood. Most of the oxygen is carried by red blood cells, which collect oxygen from the lungs and deliver it to all parts of the body. A person's blood oxygen level is an indicator of how well the body distributes oxygen from the lungs to the cells, and it can be important for people's health.

 

Monitoring blood oxygen is particularly important for people with the following conditions that can affect blood oxygen levels -

  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

  • asthma

  • pneumonia

  • lung cancer

  • anemia

  • heart attack or heart failure

  • congenital heart defects

  • interstitial lung disease

  • emphysema

  • acute respiratory distress syndrome or ARDS

 

How to measure Blood Oxygen

The pulse oximeter is a clip-like device that is placed on your finger, earlobe, or toe. You may feel a small amount of pressure, but there is no pain or pinching. The oximeter passes small beams of light through the blood in the finger, measuring the amount of oxygen. It does this by measuring changes of light absorption in oxygenated or deoxygenated blood. The measurement is reported as a percentage.

 

What is considered Normal

Typically, more than 89 percent of your blood should be carrying oxygen. This is the oxygen saturation level needed to keep your cells — and your body — healthy. While having an oxygen saturation below this temporarily is not believed to cause damage, repeat or consistent instances of lowered oxygen saturation levels may be damaging.

 

An oxygen saturation level of 95 percent is considered normal for most healthy individuals.

 

 

 

 

Effects of low blood oxygen levels

Low blood oxygen levels can result in abnormal circulation and lead to a few of the following symptoms:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Maintain Blood Oxygen levels

  • Exercise – when you exercise, the body has to do extra work to keep blood oxygen at the level needed to support the exercise.  Overtime, this can result in a higher steady-state level – i.e. even when not exercising.

  • Diet – food such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, which are high in chlorophyll or iron increase the red blood cells count and, therefore, oxygen utilization by the body.

  • Breathing – Deep breathing for a few minutes each day - deep breathing slows the heart rate slows and causes more oxygen to enter the blood stream.

  • Fresh air – opening windows can bring additional oxygen into your home; exercise outdoors if possible; add some fresh plants inside your home. 

When to See a Doctor

You should see a doctor if you -

  • experience severe and sudden shortness of breath

  • experience shortness of breath when at rest

  • have shortness of breath that worsens during exercise or physical activity

  • wake suddenly with shortness of breath or a feeling of choking 

Sources:

  1. Silva, J C, (2018, Feb 26). Low and normal blood oxygen levels: What to know. Retrieved from: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321044.php

  2. Brown, A . Know Your Blood Oxygen Saturation Levels. Retrieved from: https://biostrap.com/blog/know-your-blood-oxygen-saturation-levels 

 

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is for INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND IS NOT INTENDED AS MEDICAL ADVICE.  If you or any other person has a medical concern, please CONSULT WITH YOUR PHYSICIAN.  Your physician is your healthcare advocate, so never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something that you have read in this article or in any linked materials.

  • shortness of breath

  • headache

  • restlessness

  • dizziness

  • rapid breathing

  • chest pain

  • confusion

  • high blood pressure

  • lack of coordination

  • visual disorders

  • sense of euphoria

  • rapid heartbeat 

Monitoring Blood Pressure

Why is Blood Pressure measurement important

Blood Pressure (BP) is a very important number for the human body. It can be very useful in warning you of some extreme health conditions like stroke, heart attack, kidney problems, vision problems, etc. It’s that flashing “Check Engine” light on your car’s dashboard that you shouldn’t ignore.

 

BP is measured as ‘systolic’ - when the heart beats while pumping blood, and ‘diastolic’ - when the heart is at rest between beats pressures.

 

What is considered normal

If your Systolic pressure (upper number)

is between 90 and 120 AND your Diastolic

pressure (lower number) is between 60

and 80, your BP is considered normal.

 

We have created a simple chart for you to refer to when you want to understand your BP –

 

High BP (Hypertension):

If your BP is consistently above normal over a period of time, you suffer from hypertension. You should track your BP regularly and meet with your physician to determine best course of action.

It will typically involve medication as well as

change in lifestyle habits – especially food and

exercise – to help manage high BP.

Pre-Hypertension: You are at the risk of having

Hypertension. There are no medications

necessary for prehypertension. But this is when

you should adopt healthier lifestyle choices.

A balanced diet and regular exercise can help lower

your BP to a healthy range.

 

Low BP (Hypotension):

In healthy people, low BP without any symptoms is not usually a concern and does not need to be treated. But low BP can be a sign of an underlying problem - especially in the elderly - where it may cause inadequate blood flow to the heart, brain, and other vital organs.

 

Hypotension is a medical concern only if it causes signs or symptoms or is linked to a serious condition, such as heart disease. Signs and symptoms of hypotension may include dizziness, fainting, cold and sweaty skin, fatigue (tiredness), blurred vision, or nausea (feeling sick to your stomach).

 

How often should I measure my BP

If you have already been diagnosed with hypertension, you should measure your BP twice daily. The first measurement should be in the morning before eating or taking any medications, and the second in the evening. Each time you measure, take two or three readings to make sure your results are accurate.

If you do not have hypertension, you should have a BP test performed at least once every two years to screen for high BP as a risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

 

How to maintain your BP

Here are a few simple tips to maintain your BP in a healthy range:

  • Lose weight – Losing weight helps to keep your high BP in check, even a 10 pound weight loss will help in dropping your BP.

  • Lower Sodium intake – Eat healthy and manage your Sodium intake. Americans typically eat about three times the recommended amount of Sodium daily. Beware of these common foods that have high Sodium levels – breads & rolls, cold cuts & cured meats, pizza, poultry, soup and sandwiches.

  • Exercise – Exercising and staying fit help manage BP. Try to make 30 minutes at least five days in the week to see a difference in your health. Consider adding weight lifting to your exercise regimen as it helps retain muscle mass as you age.

  • Lower Stress – Stress is known to affect overall health and over time, triggers unhealthy habits and puts your cardiovascular health at risk. Carve out time to indulge in stress-relieving activities like meditation and deep breathing.

 

Sources

  1. American Heart Association, Understanding BP Readings. Retrieved from: https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/understanding-blood-pressure-readings

  2. WebMD, Understanding Low BP -- the Basics. Retrieved from: https://www.webmd.com/heart/understanding-low-blood-pressure-basics#1

  3. Mayo Clinic, Get the most out of home BP monitoring. Retrieved from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/in-depth/high-blood-pressure/art-20047889

  4. Harvard Health, 6 simple tips to reduce your BP. Retrieved from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/6-simple-tips-to-reduce-your-blood-pressure

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is for INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND IS NOT INTENDED AS MEDICAL ADVICE.  If you or any other person has a medical concern, please CONSULT WITH YOUR PHYSICIAN.  Your physician is your healthcare advocate, so never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something that you have read in this article or in any linked materials.