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Respiratory Therapist/oxygen readings good but still winded


I am curious as to why my husband who is in heart failure can have good oxygen reading of 97 or better and yet be so winded when he does anything such as walking to the mail box. Thanks for your response.

Good morning,

Thank you for entrusting me with your medical question today, I hope I am able to help make sense of some things for you. Our body's oxygen level (Normal SpO2 is 92-100%# and our lung function, while often connected items, are also often mutually exclusive of each other. What this means is it is possible to have a normal oxygen saturation (97%), yet have less than optimal lung function.  This scenario is fairly common in CHF patients who are moving oxygen through their body fairly well, yet they get short-of-breath because the excess fluid in and around their lungs is pressing on the lungs and causing restricted expansion... which leads to labored breathing. Same concept applies for a lung disordered-patient who has a poor SpO2 #say, 80-85%) due to the body's inability to transfer oxygen through the blood stream like it once did, yet their lungs are moving air well and they are not very winded. I hope this helps.

Best of health,

Larry, RRT

Respiratory Therapist

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Larry W. Wical, BA-RRT


I CAN answer: ALL questions and queries related to the following topics... - Oxygen - Asthma - COPD - Bronchitis - Emphysema - Pneumonia (Viral/Bacterial) - Tuberculosis (TB) - SARS - Influenza (Flu) - Vaccines - Pulmonary Embolism - Pleural Effusion - Atelectasis - Inhalation injuries (burns, chemicals, etc.) - PFTs - Cardiovascular health - Sleep Apnea - BiPap/CPAP - Ventilators ("Respirators") - Aspiration injuries - Thoracic injuries - Lung contusions - Tracheal injuries - Artificial Tracheostomy - Secretions - Prolotherapy/Regenerative Injection Therapy (RIT): A patient's experience/perspective - General health and fitness I CANNOT answer: Questions that vary too far from my primary scope of pulmonary and cardiovascular care and fitness. I promise to be open and honest about my knowledge of submitted topics, and will always openly provide my personal as well as professional feedback as it relates.


Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT, RCP) since 2005. I have worked primarily in the acute care, critical care, burn care and home care settings.

NBRC - National Board of Respiratory Care AARC - American Association of Respiratory Care

-All About Kids Magazine -The Clermont Sun -Cincy Sports & Fitness Magazine -Many online Fitness and Health blogs and "webazines"

- B.A. in Communication (1997) - A.A.S. in Respiratory Science (2005) - RRT license (state of OH, KY and IN) - Basic Life Saving (BLS) - Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS) - Advanced Burn Life Support (ABLS)

Past/Present Clients
Currently work in the city's largest academic/research hospital.

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