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What is Respiratory Failure?

What is respiratory failure?

Respiratory failure is, by definition, a failure of gas exchange. There are two types:

  • Type 1 is hypoxaemia with a normal or low PaCO2 which usually presents clinically with tachypnoea and respiratory distress, and may be identified by abnormal vital signs including low oxygen saturation.

  • Type 2 is hypoxaemia with a high PaCO2 and may, again, present with respiratory distress. However, if hypercapnia is significant, reduced conscious level may be the mode of presentation.

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