Feeding Patients on Artificial Ventilation

The artificial ventilator may be used to control the breathing patterns of patients who have acute breathing problems (e.g., respiratory failure with worsening blood gases). If the patient can be enter-ally fed, the composition of feed has a profound effect on gas exchanges, especially CO2 production, and therefore respiratory quotient. This is expressed as the ratio of CO2 produced to oxygen consumed. Because CO2 production is greater during carbohydrate metabolism, a diet high in carbohydrate requires increased ventilation to eliminate the excess CO2, whereas high-fat feeds reduce CO2 production and are therefore potentially beneficial. Overfeeding negates any beneficial response to high-fat feeds because the conversion of energy to fat involves a disproportionately large production of CO2.

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