Severely overweight people who suffer from hypoventilation can have abnormally low levels of oxygen (hypoxaemia) in their blood during air travel as a result of reduced atmospheric pressure in the cabin of aircrafts.
In a recent Respirology study, even patients diagnosed with obesity hypoventilation syndrome who were in the care of specialist and had normal daytime blood oxygen levels were still at risk of hypoxaemia when flying.
"The findings suggest that it is advisable for all hypoventilation syndrome patients to do a hypoxic challenge test before air travel to be better prepared for the possibility that supplementary oxygen on-board or non-invasive ventilation is needed," said lead author Dr. Masood Ali.
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Ali, M., Smith, I. E., Gulati, A. and Shneerson, J. M. (2014), Pre-flight assessment in patients with obesity hypoventilation syndrome. Respirology. DOI: 10.1111/resp.12353