Chronic respiratory failure (CRF) is the permanent inability of the respiratory system to oxygenate the blood and/or remove carbon dioxide. It may be the result of a lack of airflow, and therefore the circulation of air through the lungs, or malfunctions in the pulmonary tissues resulting in a reduction of gaseous exchange between air and blood.
Frequent Causes of Chronic Respiratory Failure:
- Neuromuscular diseases, such as Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
- Obesity Hypoventilation Syndrome, which is becoming increasingly prevalent as a result of the obesity epidemic
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), which is also increasing as a result of smoking, pollution and population aging
Chronic respiratory failure impairs daily life as a result of:
- Shortness of breath
- Acute fatigue
- Accelerated heart rate
- Blue-tinged lips or fingertips (cyanosis) in the most severe cases
- Sweating or headaches as a result of elevated levels of carbon dioxide in the blood
- In addition to specific treatment for the underlying disease, CRF can benefit from long-term home respiratory assistance.
Two services may be provided for this purpose:
- Mechanical ventilation - to remove excess carbon dioxide using a simple mask
- Oxygen therapy - to remediate the lack of oxygen in the blood, usually via a nasal cannula connected to the oxygen source