Silent Hypoxia is likely caused by a combination of biological mechanisms occurring simultaneously in the lungs of COVID-19 patients, revealed a study published in the journal Nature Communications. Scientists are using computer models to decipher the relationship between hypoxia and COVID-19.
Silent Hypoxia is caused when there is very low oxygen in the body, which will impair other vital organs as well. Hypoxia's ability to inflict damage quietly is the reason why it is called 'silent' hypoxia.
The study made use of computer models to test three different scenarios that would help explain why and the ways in which lungs stop supplying oxygen to the bloodstream.
In coronavirus patients, the infection damages lungs and the damaged tissues lose oxygen and stop functioning altogether, halting the supply of oxygen in the bloodstream.
Normally the blood vessels in the damaged parts of lungs due to some infections constrict which is a good thing but it is found that the lungs of COVID-19 patients has not only lost its ability to restrict the supply of oxygen to damaged tissues but is also opening up those vessels more. This phenomenon is quite hard to be noticed through a CT scan.
The research team tested this theory using computational lung model and also studied the impact of blood clotting in different regions of the lungs before coming to the conclusion that COVID-19 could incite silent hypoxia.
The computer model was also used to find out if the virus interfered in the air-to-blood flow ratio that is required by the lungs to function properly. The mismatched air-to-blood flow ratio found in many of the common respiratory diseases could also be a severe contributor to silent hypoxia found in COVID-19 patients, said Bela Suki, a professor of biomedical engineering.
The findings of the study are highly useful as clinicians can make more informed choices about treating patients using appropriate measures.