Blogs from May, 2021


Why Blood Oxygen Level Is Important Enough to Be Included in the Latest Apple Watch

When we talk about blood oxygen level, we are referring to the measure of oxygen the blood cells are carrying. Your body regulates your blood oxygen level closely. When you visit the doctor’s office, they would check your blood oxygen level to determine how well your lungs are working and to measure the acid-base balance in the blood. Your blood needs the right balance of acidic and basic compounds in order to function properly, and this phenomenon is called the acid-base balance.

If you are growing more concerned about your blood oxygen level, you are not alone. In recent years, there has actually been a spike in sales for pulse oximeters, which is the device used to measure BAC. Plus, in the Apple Watch Series 6, the optical heart sensor was redesigned to add blood oxygen measurement capabilities. When it measures blood oxygen levels, the back crystal shines red and green LEDs and infrared light onto the wrist, and then photodiodes measure the amount of light reflected back.

When you visit the doctor’s office, however, they will test your blood oxygen level in one of two ways. One possibility is an arterial blood gas or ABG test that requires a small amount of blood to be drawn from the radial artery in the forearm. Another possibility is that they will take a sample from a vein instead of an artery. Some doctors prefer to draw from an artery because this allows the opportunity for oxygen and carbon dioxide levels to be measured before they enter body tissues. Most people need an oxygen saturation level of at least 89% to keep their cells healthy. In addition, a normal blood oxygen level below 60 mm Hg is considered low and might require oxygen supplementation, depending on the doctor’s decision and the individual case. Blood oxygen level is so important and is becoming a burgeoning topic in the health world for the following reasons:

  • It has shown to be an important way to monitor COVID-19 cases.

One of the reasons that blood oxygen levels have been highlighted recently is because healthcare experts have actually been using these levels to check and monitor for COVID-19 cases. A blood level of below 92% along with fast, shallow breathing has been associated with elevated death rates in a study of hospitalized COVID-19 patients by the University of Washington at Seattle.

  • Blood oxygen level can be used to measure respiratory and circulatory conditions.

Even before COVID-19 was brought onto the horizon, blood oxygen levels were used to monitor respiratory systems, particularly in individuals with respiratory conditions. Patients with low blood oxygen levels are suffering from a condition called hypoxemia. Hypoxemia simply means below-normal levels of oxygen in the blood, specifically in the arteries. It is a sign of a problem relating to breathing and circulation. Hypoxemia is often caused by heart conditions and lung conditions like asthma, emphysema, and bronchitis. In mild cases, hypoxemia can cause headaches and shortness of breath. In severe cases, it can interfere with heart and brain function.

Symptoms of Low Blood Oxygen Levels

If you have blood oxygen levels that are below normal, you might be suffering from a condition called hypoxemia, which can be caused by a lack of oxygen in the air, inability of the lungs to inhale and send oxygen to the cells and tissues, and inability of the bloodstream to circulate to the lungs, collect oxygen, and transport it around the body. Low blood oxygen levels can cause the following symptoms:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Headache
  • Restlessness
  • Dizziness
  • Rapid breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Confusion
  • High blood pressure
  • Lack of coordination
  • Visual disorders
  • Sense of euphoria
  • Rapid heartbeat

How Dry Cupping Can Help with Tissue Hypoxia

All of the causes listed above manifest as one of three general abnormalities: hypoxemia, impaired oxygen delivery to tissues, and impaired tissue oxygen extraction and utilization. Management of tissue hypoxia usually focuses on global hypoxemia and oxygen delivery. At ProFysio Physical Therapy, we offer a solution that can help: dry cupping. Dry cupping creates a stretching of the tissue or distraction through negative pressure by placing cups onto the skin and creating a suction effect.

The purpose of placing the cups is to increase blood flow to the area, reduce muscle tension, promote cell repair, improve blood flow, and improve tissue oxygenation. Dry cupping increases circulation by promoting additional blood flow to the area. If you are experiencing pain due to low blood oxygen levels, dry cupping can help with this as well. It stimulates the mechanoreceptors in the tissue, which sends increased neuro-sensory input to the brain to promote improved muscular output and reduce pain.

One study published in Biomedical Optics Express that was approved by the Human Subjects Institutional Review Board at the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China aimed to evaluate the therapeutic effect of dry cupping. They studied thirteen healthy volunteers and assessed their body’s reactions to single cupping therapy. At the end of the study, they concluded that cupping therapy can help to reduce deoxy-hemoglobin and can help individuals obtain more oxy-hemoglobin. Deoxy hemoglobin is the form of hemoglobin without oxygen, the predominant protein in red cells. This enhances the local oxygen uptake and promotes the blood microcirculation and hemodynamic activity. They also found that the treatment induced an oxygen elevation in the local tissue to accelerate the repair or function of that tissue, which shows promise for its therapeutic effects.

To learn more about dry cupping and other therapeutic services at ProFysio Physical Therapy, give us a call at (732) 812-5200 or contact us online.