Oxygen delivery in normal physiologic states is determined by cardiac output, hemoglobin, oxygen saturation, and to a lesser extent, dissolved oxygen in the blood. Compensatory mechanisms such as an increase in stroke volume, heart rate, and re-distribution of blood flow helps in scenarios with increased oxygen demand. In cases of acute hemodynamic decompensation, this pre-existing physiologic relation between oxygen delivery and oxygen consumption is altered, resulting in tissue hypoxia and resultant anaerobic metabolism. A persistent state of sub-critical O2 delivery correlates with increased mortality. Oxygen consumption itself is usually independent of delivery unless a critical threshold is unmet. We can use various parameters such as serum lactate, oxygen extraction, and central venous oxygen saturation to determine this pathology. A basic understanding of this physiology will help better tailor therapy to improve outcomes in critically ill patients.
Part of the book: Blood