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Blood Oxygen Level: What It Means to You

1 Sep 2016
| Under Lung Disease, Medical, Oxygen Levels | Posted by | 5 Comments
Blood Oxygen Level: What It Means to You

For people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, pulmonary fibrosis and other chronic lung diseases, keeping a close eye on their blood oxygen level is typically part of the daily routine. However, for people living with COPD and other chronic lung conditions, receiving enough oxygen can be challenging. Every cell, organ and tissue in your body needs adequate oxygen, so oxygen is essential to a properly functioning body. When your body doesn’t receive enough oxygen, it’s unable to function properly. We’re here to help you better understand your blood oxygen level, how your body gets oxygen and what it could mean for you.

Oxygen and the Body

Your body uses oxygen in various ways to keep you at your best. Your blood transports oxygen throughout your body. Your body contains many different types of blood vessels, which act as the road system for your blood to travel throughout your body. Oxygen-rich blood travels through arteries and arterial branches to deliver oxygen and essential nutrients to your body. Capillaries are small, thin blood vessels that connect arteries and veins. Capillaries are important because they allow oxygen, nutrients, carbon dioxide and waste to pass to and from the tissue’s cells. Oxygen-poor blood travels through veins back to the heart and lungs where it will be re-oxygenated.

Your heart and lungs work together to deliver oxygen to your body, and your lungs inhale oxygen-rich air and exhale carbon dioxide. The heart pumps your blood to your lungs, so your blood can become oxygenated. Then, your heart pumps the oxygenated blood through your arteries and sends your blood to deliver oxygen to other cells, organs and tissues in your body.

How Your Heart and Lungs Deliver Oxygen Step-by-Step

Your heart has four chambers and four valves, which work to pump blood throughout your body. Your lungs and linked blood vessels deliver oxygen and remove carbon dioxide. The bronchi inside the lungs branch into smaller, thinner tubes called bronchioles. These tubes end in bunches of tiny, round air sacs called alveoli. Alveoli are covered in capillaries, and these capillaries connect to a network of veins and arteries.

The pulmonary artery and its branches deliver oxygen-poor blood to the capillaries that surround the air sacs. Once inside the air sacs, carbon dioxide moves from the blood and into the air to be exhaled while oxygen moves from inhaled air into the capillaries. Oxygen-rich blood then travels to the heart through the pulmonary vein and its branches, and on to the rest of the body.

Here’s How Oxygen Is Moved Through the Heart and Lungs to the Body:

Blood Oxygen Level: What It Means to You

Your Blood Oxygen Level and What It Means

A healthy, normal blood oxygen level remains around 95 percent to 100 percent. You can monitor your blood oxygen level at home with a pulse oximeter. Values below 90 percent are considered low.

When your body doesn’t receive enough oxygen and you have a low blood oxygen level, hypoxemia or hypoxia, cyanosis and other conditions may occur. Because COPD and other chronic lung diseases restrict or obstruct normal breathing, low blood oxygen levels can be a serious issue. Hypoxemia or hypoxia occurs when your body has insufficient oxygen and can range from mild to severe. Symptoms of hypoxia can include severe shortness of breath, wheezing, constant coughing, a choking feeling and a bluish discoloration of the skin (cyanosis).

Chronic hypoxia can lead to cerebral hypoxia or brain hypoxia, which means that your brain cells could become seriously damaged within minutes.

If you suspect hypoxia call your doctor immediately. For cerebral hypoxia, call 911.

Improve Your Blood Oxygen Level

Many doctors will prescribe oxygen therapy to help you receive enough oxygen and to improve your blood oxygen levels. Your doctor may also prescribe breathing exercises, diet and exercise changes, pulmonary rehabilitation and medications to help you breathe. Keeping a close eye on your blood oxygen level is important as well. Remember to see your doctor regularly even if you’re feeling well, so you and your doctor can work together.

In combination with traditional treatments, many people with COPD and other chronic lung diseases have seen improvements to their pulmonary function after stem cell therapy. A relatively new treatment, stem cell therapy works to promote healing from within the lungs, potentially improving lung function. In fact, many patients report coming off or significantly reducing their oxygen therapy use after treatment. If you or a loved one has COPD, emphysema, pulmonary fibrosis or another chronic lung disease and would like to learn more about your options, contact us at (800) 729-3065.


  1. Pingback: The Relationship between COPD and Heart Problems | Lung Institute

  2. PB

    6 months ago

    Dear Larry.

    First and foremost, thank you for sharing your great news with us. We’re so glad to hear that you’re feeling better, able to walk and enjoy being outdoors and are experiencing improved blood oxygen levels. Please keep us updated on your progress, and remember, we’re here when you need us at (855) 313-1149. Thank you again for this great update, and we look forward to hearing more in the future.

    Kind Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  3. Larry Wood

    6 months ago

    My Oxygen levels had been 92 normally and dropped to 89 occasionally before stem cell therapy. 4 weeks after “booster” stem cell treatment, one year after full treatment, I noticed for the first time ever, my blood oxygen went to a of high 97% and then 98% for the first time ever, and it was even during walking. Now 94-95 seems to be quite normal now. In addition to the stem cell therapy I began a walking program that now after 6 weeks has increased to 6 miles per day at about an 18-min/mile. I never dreamed I could do that since my first attempt to walk was 1 mile, which took me 26 minutes at a casual stroll. Now, at periods during the walk I often experience several minutes of “easy” breathing, which have been increasingly frequent as time goes on. I am alpha-1 deficient (ZZ) and get weekly Prolastin infusions that halts the progress of lung disease, I receive stem cell therapy every 3-4 months, which heals inflammation, increases blood oxygen and making breathing easier, and I supplement with L-argenine which contributes to healthier, more elastic vascular system.

  4. PB

    7 months ago

    Dear Bonnie,

    Thanks for your comment, and we’re glad to hear that you found this information helpful. Keep checking-in with our blog for articles on a variety of topics to help people breathe easier. You can also check out our interactive person to learn more about how oxygen affects the body by clicking here.

    Best Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  5. Bonnie Lee

    7 months ago

    Thank you for this information. I have CAD & have double stents in my LAD, brady/tachycardia and just got a pacemaker, and pulmonary hypertension (mild-moderate). I appreciate your information and would like to see more on my condition.

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* All treatments performed at Lung Institute utilize autologous stem cells, meaning those derived from a patient's own body. No fetal or embryonic stem cells are utilized in Lung Institute's procedures. Lung Institute aims to improve patients' quality of life and help them breathe easier through the use of autologous stem cell therapy. To learn more about how stem cells work for lung disease, click here.

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