Home Oxygen Therapy
VitalAire Home Oxygen Therapy delivers supplemental oxygen to reduce shortness of breath, improve the quality and length of life and allow patients to become more active and confident.
Home Oxygen Therapy is primarily used to treat a common lung condition called Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), which causes the body to become short of oxygen. Oxygen therapy can also be used for other indications such as treatment of Heart Failure and other cardio-respiratory conditions.
VitalAire Canada has over 40 years of experience in providing home oxygen therapy across Canada. We provide 24/7 service to our clients on home oxygen therapy primarily at their homes.
More information on COPD, how it is diagnosed and treated can be found in the following sections.
Getting the oxygen into your lungs and blood
The lungs provide 2 main functions. They allow outside room air to flow into the body through airways called bronchial tubes; then alveoli, at the end of these tubes, allow this oxygen to move into the blood stream and carbon dioxide (waste) from the blood to move out through the airways. After the lungs bring the oxygen into the body the heart needs to get the oxygen into the blood.
There are several conditions and diseases that can affect the normal breathing process. Among these are:
- The airways can become damaged, filled with secretions and experience muscle constriction (bronchospasm) to block the airflow (Chronic Bronchitis)
- The alveoli can become enlarged, not allowing the oxygen and carbon dioxide to move properly from the blood to the air sacs (Emphysema)
- Neuro-muscular conditions which can interfere with signals to and the action of the diaphragm
- Finally the heart may not be pumping the blood to and from the alveoli correctly (Heart Problems)
Any of the above conditions may prevent oxygen from getting into your blood and can cause you to become short of oxygen. We will focus on Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) as this is the most common lung disease which can be effectively treated with home oxygen.
COPD – The primary indication for Home Oxygen Therapy
In COPD the 2 main anatomical parts of the lung – the bronchial tubes and the alveoli – have become damaged.
Bronchial tubes (airways)
Your blood oxygen levels begin to drop as a result of COPD and your carbon dioxide levels begin to rise, typically leading to shortness of breath.
In countries like Canada, smoking causes about 80% of COPD cases. Other things that can cause COPD are:
- second-hand smoke
- air pollution (dust or chemicals)
- having repeated lung infections as a child
- a rare condition called Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency
How common is COPD?
COPD is very common
Two recent international epidemiological studies found that COPD is twice as prevalent as previously believed with a full 10% of the population now known to be suffering from it. It is also known that up to 50% of people who have the condition remain undiagnosed.
How does Home Oxygen Therapy Help?
When your body is short of oxygen it is hard to complete your normal activities and therefore you tend to do less and less.
Home oxygen therapy provides you with a small flow of oxygen to return your oxygen levels to normal. The reduction in your shortness of breath allows you to regain control, reduces your anxiety and you can become more confident in your daily activities.
Most people have a specific oxygen flow rate to use during the day (common example: 2 litres/minute) and another flow rate to use during activities or at night. The goal is to provide you with the most appropriate oxygen delivery systems to meet your lifestyle and clinical needs.
Continuous oxygen use has been shown to:
- Increase your quality of life1,2
- Increase your length of life1,2
- Reduce symptoms of depression3,4
- Reduce hospitalizations5
VitalAire Professionals can assess your needs to determine how home oxygen therapy can improve your quality of life.
1. A Clinical Trial. Continuous or Nocturnal Oxygen Therapy in Hypoxemic Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease – Annals of Internal Medicine 1980; 93: 391 – 398
2. Report from the Medical Research Council Working Party. Long Term Domiciliary Oxygen Therapy In Chronic Hypoxic Cor Pulmonale Complicating Chronic Bronchitis And Emphysema. The Lancet; March 1981, 681 – 686
3. Petty T, et al. Supportive Therapy in COPD. Chest 1998;113;256S-262S
4. Cottrell J, et al. Home Oxygen Therapy : A Comparison of 2- vs 6-Month Patient Reevaluation. Chest 1995;107;358-361.
5. Ringbaek TJ, et al. Does long-term oxygen therapy reduce hospitalisation in hypoxaemic chronic obstructive pulmonary disease? Eur Respir J 2002; 20: 38–42