People with serious lung problems who are unable to breathe for themselves, for example, patients in intensive care units recovering from injuries, or who have viral, or bacterial infections, like pneumonia, may be placed on mechanical ventilation.
Although these patients may require a ventilator, too often these devices make their lung conditions worse. Patients with lung injuries that require mechanical ventilation lead to more deaths annually than do breast cancer and prostate cancer combined.
For years, scientists have known that when lungs are exposed to rhythmic pressure of ventilation, the production of cytokines, immune messengers, are stimulated. This excessive production of cytokines results in “boosted” levels of inflammation in the lungs that may damage the lungs, even after ventilation has been stopped. Excessive inflammation can lead to the destruction of formerly healthy organ systems.
It is as if the immune system sees “pressure” as a “foreign agent” an event against which the body much be protected. The pressure appears to trigger an immune inflammatory response in the body.
This phenomenon can be seen even at the cellular level. Exposing cells in a test tube to as few as four hours of rhythmic pressures results in increased levels of inflammatory cytokines that recruit more inflammatory immune cells into the area. Twelve (12) hours of ventilation-type treatment results in a 5-7 times increase in the levels of inflammatory cytokines.
During winter months, respiratory infections are the most frequent cause of intensive care unit hospitalizations for infants. For some infections, Infants that are on mechanical ventilators have significantly higher levels of lung inflammation than infants not being ventilated. However, even in healthy children, mechanical ventilation triggers an inflammatory response within hours.
For over a decade I have tried to educate the public about the need for the body to maintain immune inflammatory homeostasis, immune balance; having enough inflammation to do the job, but not so much that it causes damage.
Inflammation is necessary for our survival to protect us from infections, and it is the first step the body takes when it heals itself, for example, after an injury.
But the amount of inflammation produced by the body must be tightly limited, because too much inflammation is like an uncontrollable forest fire.
One of my greatest frustrations has been trying to help medical practitioners understand that inappropriate inflammation is the foundation of most of their patients’ problems, but too often, “they just couldn’t get it”. Now, every journal, every magazine touts the fact that “inflammation is the root cause of disease”. They admit that it has a role in cardiovascular disease, gastrointestinal, emotional problems etc. and that inflammatory responses play a major role in cancer.
It has been my experience that when individuals have major health issues, “following the levels of inflammation” will help explain what is happening to the patient. In cases of mechanical ventilation, other procedures and conditions, what would be the harm in taking steps to limit uncontrolled levels of inflammation, and help return the body to immune homeostasis?
Dr. Greenblatt looks forward to assisting you in returning to immune balance: She can be contacted at: http://drhellengreenblatt.info/contact-dr-hellen or 1.302-265.3870 [USA, ET]. Thank you.