What is hypoxia? When you find out you will wonder why anyone would called it “happy”?
Hypoxia is low blood oxygen levels. When your lungs are healthy they keep the body and your blood saturated with oxygen. Your pulse oximeter reading would be 95-100%.
However, if your pulse oximeter readings are lower than 90%, it is time to go to the hospital.
What’s happening with COVID-19 is that people who test positive with the disease are having low oxygen readings – and they are not exhibiting any symptoms of COVID-19. Carbon dioxide levels may be okay and because that is what the brain monitors – not low oxygen – the person isn’t short of breath.
Doctors and researchers believe that the cause is infection of the cells in blood vessels. As was described in The Amazing Things We Know About Coronavirus (SARS COV-2), the cells that are targeted by the virus have a special receptors on their surfaces that make it easy for the virus to enter. These Angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptors populate in large numbers the cell surfaces of the lining of blood vessels.
Capillaries that are beside the alveoli of the lung are extremely delicate. If the capillaries are infected there is clotting and they cannot take up the oxygen from the alveoli.
Doctors treating patients with “happy hypoxia” know that the situation will become dangerous. One physician has prescribed blood thinners with success.
ACE2 receptors are also found in other organs of the body: brain, heart, lower intestines and kidneys. Researchers have thought that the damage they see in many organs in those that become very ill with COVID-19 was being caused by the cytokine storm and resulting sepsis. However now they think that the cells of the organs might be infected.