Chronic obstructive lung disease is a common and preventable disease. One of its
pathophysiological consequences is the presence of carbon dioxide retention due to hypoventilation
and ventilation/perfusion mismatch, which in consequence will cause a decrease in the acid/base
status of the patient. Whenever a patient develops an acute exacerbation, acute respiratory
hypercapnic failure will appear and the necessity of a hospital ward is a must. However, current
guidelines exist to better identify these patients and make an accurate diagnosis by using clinical
skills and laboratory data such as arterial blood gases. Once the patient is identified, rapid treatment
will help to diminish the hospital length and the avoidance of intensive care unit. On the other hand,
if there is the existence of comorbidities such as cardiac failure, gastroesophageal reflux disease,
pulmonary embolism or depression, it is likely that the patient will be admitted to the intensive care
unit with the requirement of intubation and mechanical ventilation.
Keywords: Acid-base disorder, carbon-dioxide, chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, COPD,
emphysema, hypercapnia, respiratory acidosis.
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