Hypercapnia or high levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the blood and lungs of acute lung disease patients has been considered beneficial until now. But, a recent study has found that high levels of carbon dioxide can have the opposite effect.
The study led by Jacob Sznajder, M.D., chief of pulmonary and critical care at the Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine worked with rats and human cells and found that excess of CO2 weakens the functioning and makes it harder for lungs to clear fluid.
"Allowing high levels of CO2 may contribute to the high mortality of patients with diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)," said Sznajder.
"This study argues toward therapies to reduce the high CO2 levels of patients toward normal levels, which is not the current practice in the intensive care unit," he added.
The study appears in the February issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.