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Category: Medical

Topic: Cellular Physiology

Level: EMR

Next Unit: Aerobic vs Anaerobic Metabolism

5 minute read

Airway Compromise

  • Airway compromise is anything that prevents the movement of oxygenated air into and out of the lungs. Airway compromises can be caused by foreign bodies, the tongue in an unconscious patient, blood or secretions, swelling, or trauma to the neck.

  • Respiratory compromises are a result of inadequate oxygen in the air that is breathed in and can be caused by low oxygen environments, poisonous gases, infection in the lungs, illnesses that narrow the airway and cause wheezing, excess fluid in the lungs or between the lungs and blood vessels, or poor circulation. Remember that respiration is the movement of oxygen and carbon dioxide across the cell membranes in the lungs.

  • Ventilatory compromises are a result of rate or depth of breathing not being adequate, resulting in an insufficient volume of air movement into and out of lungs and can be caused by unconsciousness or altered level of consciousness, injury to the chest, poisoning or overdose, and disease. Remember that ventilation is the movement of air in and out of the lungs.


In other words:

Airway Compromise interference in the airway.

Respiratory Compromise interference at the level of O2/CO2 exchange (the air/blood interface where the exchange takes place).

Ventilatory Compromise interference with the mechanical aspects of breathing movements.


Hypoperfusion ("Shock")

Shock is the state of hypoperfusion or impaired blood flow to the organs, tissues, or cells.

If the heart rate is too slow or too fast or if the contractions of the heart are too weak, organs and cells do not receive enough oxygenated blood flow to sustain life.

Hypoperfusion (shock) is inadequate tissue perfusion.

Certain states of injury or illness can result in hypoperfusion:

  • Neck fractures with spinal cord injury
  • Infection
  • Anaphylaxis.

Neurologic, infectious, and anaphylactic mishaps can cause the mechanisms that constrict blood vessels at just the right tone to fail. Blood vessel dilation and the inability for that vessel to tighten leads to a decreased overall pressure in the cardiovascular system. This creates a larger space with the same amount of blood volume--result: insufficient pressure moving the blood which causes impaired blood flow to distal organs, tissues, and cells.