Lynchburg Journal of Medical Science

Lynchburg Journal of Medical Science




Laura Witte, PhD, PA-C


High-flow oxygen therapy is a safe and effective treatment for hypoxic chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The current standard of care for hypercapnic COPD is noninvasive ventilator (NIV) therapy. A significant percentage of patients are not able to tolerate NIV due to discomfort with the mask. High-flow oxygen is emerging as a very effective alternative and is much better tolerated due to the delivery of oxygen through a flexible nasal cannula and the addition of warmed, humidified air. Historically, there has been concern that high-flow nasal cannula (HFNC) would worsen hypercapnia. Still, initial research has found high-flow oxygen to be a safe and effective alternative to NIV in hypercapnic COPD. More research is needed to determine the optimal high-flow oxygen settings, patient selection, safety in acute and chronic patients, and the most appropriate patient care settings.


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