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How Oxygen Affects the Extremities

28 Mar 2016
| Under Oxygen Levels | Posted by | 13 Comments
How Oxygen Affects the Extremities

For people with chronic lung diseases, getting enough oxygen can be challenging. Because oxygen is essential to healthy bodily functions, not having enough oxygen can cause serious risks. These risks include issues with the brain, heart, lungs and even circulation to the arms and legs. When there’s either not enough oxygen-rich blood or poor circulation, people can develop problems in their arms and legs. Here’s what you need to know about how oxygen affects the extremities:

What is the main function of the circulatory system?

Consisting of the heart and blood vessels, the circulatory system’s main function is to provide the body with adequate nutrients and oxygen to all cells, organs and tissues. Arteries carry blood away from the heart, and veins carry blood back to the heart. There are two circulatory systems in the body: systemic circulation and pulmonary circulation.

Systemic circulation supplies oxygen-rich blood and important nutrients to the organs, tissues and cells. Pulmonary circulation provides fresh oxygen to the blood while removing carbon dioxide.

What do I need to know about how oxygen affects the extremities?

How Oxygen Affects the Extremities It’s important to learn how oxygen affects the extremities. Your arms and legs are farthest from your heart. In a healthy person, blood supply to and from the extremities works normally. However, for someone with certain chronic health conditions, such as lung diseases, blood oxygen levels may be low, and circulation may not function as well.

One of the symptoms someone with lung disease may experience is swelling in the legs, feet and ankles. While the swelling isn’t caused directly from having a lung disease, having complications of lung disease called pulmonary hypertension and cor pulmonale can cause swelling. Another complication of low blood oxygen levels is a change in skin color called cyanosis.

What are pulmonary hypertension and cor pulmonale?

Pulmonary hypertension occurs when there is high blood pressure in the lung’s blood vessels. Because of the changes to the blood vessels within the lungs, it makes it harder for the blood to travel through the vessels. For the blood to be pushed through the vessels, the heart has to work harder, resulting in high blood pressure. Unchecked and untreated, pulmonary hypertension can cause serious damage and should be treated by a doctor.

Pulmonary hypertension involves the heart and the lungs and over time can lead to cor pulmonale, in which a swelling of the right side of the heart prevents sufficient oxygenated blood from reaching the lungs, resulting in the body’s inability to absorb enough oxygen.

When the liver and kidneys, which filter toxins and fluids from the blood, receive insufficient oxygen, they become ineffective. This results in harmful swelling.

What is cyanosis?

Some people with chronic lung diseases may experience cyanosis, a visible symptom of which is a bluish tint to the skin. Central cyanosis mainly results in blueness in the lips, mouth and tongue, while peripheral cyanosis presents as blueness in the extremities.

The change in color associated with cyanosis is caused by low blood oxygen levels. Because oxygen-rich blood is red, and oxygen-lacking blood is blue, the color of the blood affects the body’s appearance. Typically, cyanosis occurs when blood-oxygen levels are below 90%.

What can I do to prevent low blood oxygen levels?

How Oxygen Affects the Extremities Chronic lung diseases like COPD can cause other conditions or problems such as pulmonary hypertension, cor pulmnale and cyanosis, so it’s essential to work regularly with your doctor on the best treatment plan for you. Your doctor may prescribe certain medications or supplemental oxygen to help your body get the oxygen it needs. If you have questions about how oxygen affects the extremities, remember to ask your doctor for more information.

Because adequate oxygen levels are essential to a properly functioning body, making sure you receive enough oxygen is important. There are many ways to help your body improve oxygen levels, such as cellular therapy. Cellular therapy promotes healing within the lungs, so after cellular therapy, many patients report improved lung function and overall quality of life. At the Lung Institute, we’re happy to answer your questions and help you understand your treatment options, so contact us today at (800) 729-3065.

Click on the organs below to learn more about how oxygen affects other parts of the body:


  1. Lung Institute

    7 months ago


    We appreciate your comment. Unfortunately, at this time, Medicare, Medicaid and insurance companies don’t cover treatment. However, we’re hopeful that treatment will be covered in the near future. Keep in mind that it will take some time before the insurance companies see a financial benefit in their favor and then decide to cover it. We’re happy to answer your questions about cellular therapy for chronic lung diseases.

    We do not have a clinic in California but do have one in Scottsdale, Ariz., near Phoenix.

    We have a dedicated medical team who have a wealth of knowledge about cellular therapy, treatment options, candidacy, cost and more. So, feel free to give us a call at (855) 313-1149. We look forward to hearing from you soon.


    The Lung Institute

  2. Rodolfo Alegre

    7 months ago


  3. Lung Institute

    8 months ago


    Unfortunately, at this time, insurance companies don’t cover treatment. However, we’re hopeful that treatment will be covered by insurance companies in the near future. Keep in mind that it will take some time before the insurance companies see a financial benefit in their favor and then decide to cover it.

    In the meantime, you can learn more about cellular treatment options and have your questions answered by one of our patient coordinators. Feel free to contact us at (855) 313-1149 for more information. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Kind regards,

    The Lung Institute

  4. Dan

    8 months ago

    Dose S.O.S. And Tricare Pay For ANY OF THE TREATMENT?

  5. PB

    2 years ago

    Hello Bernard,

    Thanks for your comment and for sharing some of your story and your wife’s story with us. Keep checking-in with our blog to read articles on a variety of topics to help people with lung disease breathe easier.

    Best Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  6. bernard bateman

    2 years ago

    Hi thanks for your web site. I noticed on one of the sites there was a comment that a survey had been done with bronchiectasis sufferers with statins. My wife (74) has had bronchiectasis since she was a child and her GP has put her on statins for cholesterol for about 10 years now and fro all that time she has not had a serious lung infection requiring antibiotics. The statins seem to be doing a dual job.

  7. PB

    2 years ago

    Dear Dave,

    Thanks for your question about the requirements for cell research. At the Lung Institute, we do not perform any research trials. However, if you would like to read more about the FDA and cells, click here to read our article.

    Best Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  8. dave

    2 years ago

    For stem research what is the requirements?

  9. PB

    2 years ago

    Dear Carol,

    First and foremost, we’re sorry to hear that you’ve been going through such a difficult time with bronchiectasis, depression and swelling. We hope you found the information and tips in our article helpful. We’re happy to answer any questions you have regarding cellular treatment options, so feel free to contact us at (855) 313-1149 to speak one-on-one with a patient coordinator. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Kind Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  10. carol moran

    2 years ago

    44 elmwood road. eaglescliffe well this is better than the Dr’s Tell me..My Dr’s have been horrible with me…..my ankles were swollen..and the lady Dr. just said oh it’s only your ankles.I have bronchectasis.deppression.Back and Foot problems…Thank you………

  11. PB

    2 years ago

    Dear Carlos,

    Thanks for your comment. We’re glad that you found this information helpful. While there are different types of chronic lung disease, receiving enough oxygen is a common challenge for all of them. So, this information could also apply to pulmonary fibrosis. You can find more information about how oxygen affects the body by clicking here. We hope this is helpful, and feel free to contact us at (855) 313-1149 if you have any questions regarding cellular treatments.

    Best Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  12. carlos navarro

    2 years ago

    Very good information,does this apply to pulmonary fibrosis?

  13. Phil Carter

    2 years ago

    This is very helpful and I have COPD so with helpful information it makes life easier. Thank you

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