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Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD is a condition which affects the lungs, and how much oxygen we breathe in and carbon dioxide we breathe out. Around 1.2 million people have been diagnosed with COPD in the UK, but the actual number may be a lot higher. The main causes of COPD include air pollution and particulate work environments, however, these are nowhere near as dangerous as smoking. It is the second most commonly diagnosed lung condition in the UK – with asthma taking the top spot. The oxygen saturation of people with COPD should normally be between 88 and 92%, compared to 95-100% for people without COPD.

The saturation level should not be above this for COPD patients, as this could cause them to develop hyperoxic hypercapnia.

Hypercapnia is where there is a build-up of carbon dioxide in the body, and happens because of hyperoxia. This is where more oxygen is being used to form carbon dioxide. Due to the COPD, the patients cannot clear this excess carbon dioxide, which makes the blood more acidic. This leads to respiratory acidosis, and in serious cases, can cause death.

Therefore, the oxygen levels must be maintained regularly and this can be done using specific oxygen concentrations during oxygen therapy with the help of venturi masks, and regularly checking oxygen saturations.