Ventilation assistance includes a variety of methods designed to help restore or improve breathing function in patients who are unable to adequately breathe on their own. These methods range from at-home oxygen therapy for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) to mechanical ventilation for patients with acute respiratory failure. Ventilation assistance therapies usually include the following categories:
Ventilation assistance is used for disease or injury that causes progressive or sudden respiratory failure. It may also be used after surgery until patients recover enough to breathe adequately on their own. Physicians choose the therapy based on the type and stage of the disease process, as well as on the results of blood and pulmonary function tests that indicate the oxygenation status of the patient.
In the case of COPD, oxygen therapy does not treat the disease but can prolong life, increase quality of life, and delay the onset of more serious symptoms. Effective oxygen therapy for any patient should lead to improved or sustained levels of oxygen in arterial blood.
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP)
Successful CPAP should result in a reduction in periods of apnea for patients with sleep apnea. Hospitalized patients on CPAP should show improvement in blood gas values and pulse oximetry.
Abby Wojahn R.N., B.S.N., C.C.R.N., The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit,