Monday, April 25, 2005

Low Oxygen Levels in Airplane Passengers

Over half of airline passengers in this study had oxygen saturation levels of less than 94%, a level which may prompt the administration of supplemental oxygen in hospitalized patients.

The effect of high altitude commercial air travel on oxygen saturation

Anaesthesia 2005 60:5 p. 458

Air travel has increased steadily over the last decade, and its effect on the health of passengers has been the subject of much debate. There is a paucity of evidence on the effects of air travel on oxygen saturation in general populations. The peripheral oxygen saturation and pulse rate of 84 passengers, aged 1-78 years, were measured by pulse oximetry at ground level and altitude during air travel. There was a statistically significant reduction in oxygen saturation in all passengers traveling long haul and short haul flights (p < 0.05). The mean [range] (SD) SpO2 for all flights at ground level was 97% [93-100] (1.33) and at cruising altitude 93% [85-98] (2.33). Fifty-four per cent of passengers had SpO2 values of 94% or less at cruising altitude. This is a value which may prompt physicians to administer supplemental oxygen in hospital patients.

No comments: