man in hospital bed

Coronavirus: Chinese Discover Simple Trick to Support Breathing

In All Health Watch, Coronavirus, Featured Article, Immune Health by Garry Messick2 Comments

The coronavirus originated in China, so it is Chinese doctors who have the most experience treating it. 

They recently published a scientific paper about a simple trick they used to save patients who were critically ill with COVID-19.

The study was published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care. Doctors looked at coronavirus patients in Wuhan with acute respiratory distress syndrome.

This is a life-threatening condition in which fluid fills the lungs. Breathing becomes difficult. Oxygen levels drop. Patients must be put on a ventilator to keep them alive.[i]

Like most other hospital patients, those on a ventilator typically lie in bed on their back.

The Chinese doctors analyzed the effect of body positioning on patients’ breathing. They had some patients switch between lying face down and face up. The researchers measured the patients’ lung volume and airway pressure.

They discovered something surprising…

When they turned severely ill COVID-19 patients onto their stomachs, they often did better. Their lungs became stronger. They recovered.[ii]

‘The Lung Improves’ When the Patient is Lying Face Down

Dr. Chun Pan, a study co-author, said that when patients are on their backs, a ventilator can actually cause “more harm than benefit.”

But when lying face down, “the lung improves,” he said.

If you find yourself or a loved one ill enough from COVID-19 to require a ventilator, show the attending physician the Chinese study. You can access it HERE.

Coronavirus kills by making it impossible to breathe. And this new research shows that simply changing position in bed may be the key to better lung function…and survival.

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[i]https://www.atsjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1164/rccm.202003-0527LE

[ii]https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-03/ats-wss032420.php

Comments

  1. This method is nothing new. My wife is an ICU physician and for years has been “proning” patients like this when suffering from Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS). It’s really something to see a team of about 6 nurses tuck a patient into a couple of blankets, almost “burrito” style, and then quickly roll them. The patient’s arms and legs get placed into a mountain-climber pose and a special support holds up the face and neck.

    There are fancy beds that will also do this, but the manual method is just as effective. And as we know, specialized equipment is in minimal supply during the pandemic. The lack of a special bed should not deter a physician from considering proning their patient.

    Why is this effective? Our lungs have the greatest capacity for blood-oxygen transfer on their posterior (back) side. As we lie on our back, gravity pulls all fluid building up in the lungs from ARDS into the back area of the lungs, effectively drowning them.

    Proning the patient lets gravity pull the fluids towards the front of the chest, leaving the backs of the lungs far more capable of supporting the blood-oxygen transfer. Gravity does not seem interfere with the lungs’ preference for posterior blood-oxygen transfer.

    1. Thank you for your insight into this method, Kevin.

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