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Blood Oxygenation Key To Survival Of H1N1 Respiratory Failure Patients

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

An observational study carried out by influenza investigators in New Zealand and Australia has shown that most patients who experienced respiratory failure after contracting influenza A (H1N1), and who were treated with a type of life support that adds oxygen to the blood, survived the disease.

The study, which is due to be published in the Journal of the American Medical Association on 04 November, will be published early online due to the importance of its findings for public health.

"During 01 June to 31 August this year, 68 patients with severe influenza A H1N1 associated acute respiratory distress, received Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) in 15 intensive care units across New Zealand and Australia," says Dr Shay McGuinness, Specialist in Cardiothoracic Intensive Care, at Auckland City Hospital.

"During the study we looked at a number of factors associated with patients receiving ECMO, such as the incidence, degree of lung dysfunction, clinical features, technical characteristics, duration, complications, and survival.

"By doing this we have established the importance of ECMO as a treatment option for patients with severe influenza A H1N1 associated acute respiratory distress.

"Despite the severity of their illness and the lengthy period of time on ECMO life-support most of these patients survived," explained Dr McGuinness.

At the time of reporting, 54 of the 68 patients had survived and 14 (21 percent) had died. Six patients remained in ICU, including two who were still receiving ECMO. The 68 patients who received ECMO had a median (midpoint) age of 34.4 years and half were men.

Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome is a lung condition that leads to respiratory failure due to the rapid accumulation of fluid in the lungs.

ECMO supports recovery by taking the blood out of the patient's body and pumping it through a machine, removing carbon dioxide and adding oxygen. The blood is then delivered back to the patient, providing vital support in allowing the patient's lungs to rest and repair.

"These findings are important to our colleagues all over the world and should be used to facilitate health care planning and clinical management for these complex patients during the ongoing pandemic, "adds Dr McGuinness.

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