ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — When a disease causes a patient’s lungs to fail, a ventilator is often used to take over the body’s breathing process. The air flows through a tube that goes in the patient’s mouth and down their windpipe.
“It is an interesting development in looking at how people are responding to [COVID-19], but generally, the longer people stay in the ICU, there’s more than just being on a ventilator,” Albany County Health Commissioner Dr. Liza Whalen told News10.
Dr. Whalen says when a patient is on a ventilator, they generally require a large amount of sedation because it’s uncomfortable to be on a breathing tube. They’re often placed under a medically induced coma.
“They’re given medications that sedate them and also paralyze the muscles in the rest of their body so that the machine can do its work, and people can fight their normal impulse,” Dr. Whalen said, “which is often to breathe against what the ventilator does not cure the coronavirus, but it helps the lungs provide oxygen to keep the other organs going while the patient tries to recover. ventilator is doing.”
Governor Cuomo has brought up multiple times in press conferences that the longer a patient is on a ventilator, the less likely they are to ever come off of it.
Dr. Whalen says the longer the patient stays in bed, the weaker their muscles become, and other complications can arise from being immobile for long periods of time.
“So, this may be part of it, but I do think there’s also an additional component with coronavirus that we’re learning about,” Dr. Whalen said.
Generally, a person isn’t put on a ventilator until they are in what’s called “respiratory distress.” Not all COVID-19 patients will reach the parameters that require use of one.
The ventilator has not been shown to cure the coronavirus, but it helps the lungs provide oxygen to keep the other organs going while the patient tries to recover.