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High Co2 Blood Levels

Guest Eliza

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Last time I was hospitalized (last month) they docs were concerned about the high carbon dioxide levels in my blood. They said it was more than likely due to my tachycardia and insufficient heart function. Meaning my heart was beating too fast to allow the blood to become oxygenated which in turn puts my organs at risk. I already am on oxygen, so what else can I do?

Does anyone else have this problem? My cardio does not seem concerned about running frequent bloodwork to check these levels and I worry organ damage can be done. I know no one can give "medical advice" but I was hoping someone else might have gone down this road and could give me some advice. Maybe I am over reacting.

I already take the "usual" POTS meds and have tried ALL of the BB's....NONE of them lower my heart rate. I currently take Coreg and my rates are on average 120bpm at rest, 140's when sitting or standing still, and 160+ when walking or moving.


(ps. when I was in the hospital I was given "injections" through my IV of BB's every 10 min until my hrt rate was within a norm range and it worked really well but obviously I can't get the injections at home)

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Hi Flop,

I have a home oxygen machine (plug in compressor type "Platinum XL") that produces constant pure O2 and just the portable tank for when I leave my room which is rarely. I know my )2 levels get up to around 96 while on 100% O2 (which I think is kinda normal). I never was told what my CO2 #'s were (guess I should have asked) while in the hospital but I was feeling pretty bad so my mind wasn't working at all.

I stay on the O2 from CHF from cardiomyopathy from constant years of uncontrollable tachycardia which has caused abnormal (low) cardiac output and fluid accumulation. I have been to the hospital many times but never was told I have too much CO2 in my bloodstream (it was checked through labwork). I don't know if this answers your question or not. I might have confused you more, sorry.

I was just hoping someone might know what could cause this and if this should be checked regularly (I thought it should, but I don't want to get paranoid).

Thanks for your response.

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Thanks! Yes, that is what the test was.....arterial blood gas. And it WAS painful!!!! I have not seen a pulmonologist in years. Hmmm, I wonder if that is something I should do? Thanks for that thought.

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Hi Eliza,

I've done a bit of searching on the internet for you - don't take any of this as absolute fact but it might give you some ideas to search yourself or ask your doctors about.

Oxygen concentrators - the commercially available O2 concentrators available in the UK take in normal room air and through some clever scientific "magic" manage to provide concentrated oxygen gas. It can usually be deilvered through a face mask or nasal prongs at 2 to 4 litres per minute. This means that you breath in a mixture of the oxygen from the concentrator and air from the room, this gives you about 28% oxygen, rather than the 21% oxygen that is in plain room air.

In the hospital (and on some portable oxygen cylinders) they can give as much as 15 litres per minute. To give as close as possible to 100% oxygen they use a special oxygen face-mask with a plastic bag resevoir dangling off the front of the mask. These are what a lot of patients are given initially when they go to the ER with a serious illness / accident (I think that they don't use these much on hospital dramas on TV as they cover up the actors faces too much and it is hard to talk clearly with one on).

Some people with chronic breathing problems (often COPD) have a problem in that they retain CO2 (carbon dioxide). When they are given high concentrations of oxygen (such as 100% via resevoir bag) their CO2 levels can go higher and higher and can eventually make them really drowsy, breathe really slowly and they can become critically ill - it is really confusing but I think it is to do with not breathing out enough. I have read about a controversial theory called "hypoxic drive" which implied that these chronic patients rely on their low oxygen levels to tell the brain to breathe, if they are given too much oxygen they don't create the "breathe now" messages so their breathing gets slower and slower and their carbon dioxide levels rise. (Normally the signal to breathe comes from the level of CO2 in the blood rising - it is thought that that system doesn't work in that group of patients).

I wonder if you were given much higher amounts of oxygen in hospital compared with what you get from your home concentrator? That could have caused the type of problem that I have quoted above. I would have thought that if your CO2 levels were worryingly high that they would have been repeating the arterial blood gasses to make sure that the levels stabilised.

Another option could be that it was a veonus or mixed sample that got analyzed. I have had this happen when in hospital for asthma attacks - there was a good pulse at the wrist for them to aim at with the needle but there was also a vein over the top of the artery so they got a mixture of venous and arterial blood - that can really mess up the results.

Either way, it would be best to ask your doctor about it - if it was a serious problem I hope the doctor that did the test wrote a letter with the results to your PCP? If not your PCP might be able to find out for you and put your mind at rest.

Take care,


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