Do you know why some young people are ‘brought in dead’ from home quarantine? Answer: ‘Happy Hypoxia’

Brace for more ‘brought in dead’ cases from home quarantine, says doctor

The doctor, who was speaking to FMT on condition of anonymity, said that with the Delta variant now spreading across the country, many patients were suffering from “happy hypoxia”, where they did not show any symptom of breathing difficulty despite low oxygen levels in their body.

“We find that with this new variant, the number of deaths at home due to Covid-19 is increasing.
“Although the patients look all right, many were found to have died in their sleep. This ‘happy hypoxia’ or silent hypoxemia can be considered a silent killer,” said the doctor.

“In fact, this new variant has caused an increase in the death rate among younger people and those without any comorbidities,” said the doctor.

The doctor added that the instruction for Category 1 and Category 2 patients to undergo home quarantine should be reconsidered as not everyone has a pulse oximeter, a device used to measure oxygen levels in the body, at home.

By the time breathing difficulty symptoms show up and oxygen falls dangerously, the infection is in the lungs and becomes difficult to treat.

“When CACs are full, the government says only Category 3 patients and above should come in for screening.

“We are even more scared because most of them, when they get to the hospital, need to be ‘intubated’ or sedated to be given oxygen assistance,” said the doctor, adding that the government should increase the number of CACs based on the current increase in Covid-19 cases.

Editor’s Note: Nora Mahpar’s article was published in Free Malaysia Today on 1st August 2021.


About Silent Hypoxemia or “Happy Hypoxia”

Hypoxemia is defined as “a decrease in the partial pressure of oxygen in the blood.” As blood oxygen levels begin to reduce, a person may experience shortness of breath, also called dyspnea. If blood oxygen levels continue to fall, the organs may shut down, and the issue becomes life threatening.

COVID-19 is primarily a respiratory illness, and a severe case can reduce the amount of oxygen that the lungs can absorb. Blood oxygen levels have been found to be very low in some COVID-19 patients.

Virtual CAC: Covid patients often self-report after it’s too late, warns expert.

It is one of the defying reason for Covid-19 mortality and affects around 30% of patients who require hospitalization.

The lead author of the study, Dr. Martin J. Tobin — a professor of pulmonary and critical care medicine at the Loyola University Medical Center, in Maywood, IL noted that the brain may not immediately recognize that blood oxygen levels have reduced, explaining, “As oxygen levels drop in patients with COVID-19, the brain does not respond until oxygen falls to very low levels — at which point, a patient typically becomes short of breath.”

In addition, more than half of the patients with silent hypoxemia also had low carbon dioxide levels, which Dr. Tobin and his co-authors believe could reduce the effect of low blood oxygen levels.

“It is also possible that the coronavirus is exerting a peculiar action on how the body senses low levels of oxygen,” said Dr. Tobin, speculating that this could be linked to the lack of smell that many COVID-19 patients experience.

For Dr. Tobin, “This new information may help to avoid unnecessary endotracheal intubation and mechanical ventilation, which presents risks, when the ongoing and much anticipated second wave of COVID-19 [fully] emerges.”

#RobrenReview: 8 | 10

Published: 5th August 2021.


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