A Canadian study indicates doctors and paramedics who give their patients pure oxygen may be doing more harm than good.

Queen’s University’s Dr. Steve Iscoe contends a simple solution — adding carbon dioxide to the oxygen — isn’t being used by most Canadian hospitals and emergency services networks.

Iscoe, a respiratory physiologist, and his colleagues said their research has implications for treating a number of serious health conditions, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, difficult labor and delivery, and wound healing.

Pure oxygen can reduce blood flow to organs and tissues by increasing ventilation, Iscoe explained. “The increase in ventilation … ‘blows off’ carbon dioxide, and this fall constricts blood vessels.

When carbon dioxide is added, however, the blood vessels dilate, increasing blood flow and causing more oxygen to reach tissues in key areas like the brain and heart, he said.

Iscoe’s research appears in the July issue of CHEST, the Cardiopulmonary and Critical Care Journal.

More here.