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Biological & Biomedical Sciences
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Conditions That Can Affect the Maintenance of Arterial Oxygenation (Essay Sample)

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Conditions That Can Affect the Maintenance of Arterial Oxygenation

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Conditions That Can Affect the Maintenance of Arterial Oxygenation
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Conditions That Can Affect the Maintenance of Arterial Oxygenation
In biology, Oxygenation refers to the addition of oxygen gas to the human body. In the human body, arteries are responsible for the transfer of oxygenated blood and nutrients to all cells save for the pulmonary and umbilical arteries. Arteries have a higher blood pressure than all other body parts, and this blood pressure produces a pulse that pushes blood to all regions of the human body. While arterial oxygenation plays an indispensable role in the human body, it is affected by a number of conditions such as sleep apnea and atherosclerosis.
Sleep Apnea
Firstly, apnea is one of the most immediate conditions that influence the maintenance of arterial oxygenation and carbon dioxide excretion in the human body. Usually caused by a soft tissue at the back of the throat that blocks the nasal passage and blocks the flow of oxygen, sleep apnea affects millions of Americans every year. It may also occur as central sleep disorder, a less prevalent form of sleep apnea caused by the failure of the brain to signal muscles that are responsible of breathing. However, despite the high prevalence of this disorder, many people are unaware that they are affected by the disease since the obstructed breathing does not trigger a full awakening. The disorder can affect people of any age, gender, and weight, but it is most prevalent in those who are obese, male, smokers and users of alcohol, and adults over 40 years (Peters, 2016).
In its mild form, sleep apnea makes victims unable to rest no matter how much sleep they get. If left untreated, the disorder becomes a serious condition, causing patients to stop breathing many times during their sleep and ultimately affects the balance of arterial oxygenation. Notably, patients with sleep apnea experience a narrowing and collapse of the upper airway muscle tone accompanied by rapid drops in the blood oxygen level to values below 92 percent ("Understanding sleep apnea with oxygen saturation", 2017). Consequently, carbon dioxide builds up in the body; leading to morning headaches, sleepiness during the day, and fatigue. While any value of oxygen level below 88 percent is considered abnormal, the number and time period spent by a patient with abnormal oxygen levels is also critical (Peters, 2016). For instance, patients who desaturate to values below 92 percent only once during their sleep should not worry. However, long-term oxygen deficiency causes adverse conditions such as heart rhythm complications, fluid buildup in the body, and an increase of pressure on the right side of the heart. The good news is that sleep apnea can be Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) therapy to increase oxygen levels to the normal values ("Understanding sleep apnea with oxygen saturation", 2017).
Atherosclerosis
Also known as hardening of the arteries, atherosclerosis is a progressive disease characterized by thickening of arteries, deposits of plaque, cells, and cholesterol in the inner linings of blood vessels ("What is atherosclerosis?", 2016). Since arteries are responsible for the distribution of oxygenated blood to all body parts, plaque buildup narrows the openings of arteries and blood vessels; reducing blood flow and the supply of oxygen to body cells. While the complication is slow and starts in childhood, it progresses with age and adversely affects the maintenance of arterial oxygenation, particularly when patients reach their 50s or 60s ("Atherosclerosis and stroke", 2014). As cholesterol, platelets, and cellular debris deposit in the endothelium, the artery wall is stimulated to produce other materials that accumulate, shrink the diameter of arteries, and reduce the supply of oxygenated blood from the heart to other parts of the body. While some risks for atherosclerosis such as family history cannot be changed, others such as lack of physical exercise, poor diet, and smoking can be avoided. The disease may also be caused by chronic exposure to ambient levels of carbon dioxide, a gas that usually causes adverse effects to the maintenance of oxygen in the cardiovascular system. More often than not, patients continue living with the disease without their knowledge, and it only becomes known when plaques rupture; leading to the formation of blood clots that prevent the flow of blood to other parts of the human body ("Atherosclerosis and stroke", 2014). Clotting of blood in arteries cause heart attac...
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