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Resuscitation and auto resuscitation by airway reflexes in animals.

Cough 2013 August 23
Various diseases often result in decompensation requiring resuscitation. In infants moderate hypoxia evokes a compensatory augmented breath - sigh and more severe hypoxia results in a solitary gasp. Progressive asphyxia provokes gasping respiration saving the healthy infant - autoresuscitation by gasping. A neonate with sudden infant death syndrome, however, usually will not survive. Our systematic research in animals indicated that airway reflexes have similar resuscitation potential as gasping respiration. Nasopharyngeal stimulation in cats and most mammals evokes the aspiration reflex, characterized by spasmodic inspiration followed by passive expiration. On the contrary, expiration reflex from the larynx, or cough reflex from the pharynx and lower airways manifest by a forced expiration, which in cough is preceded by deep inspiration. These reflexes of distinct character activate the brainstem rhythm generators for inspiration and expiration strongly, but differently. They secondarily modulate the control mechanisms of various vital functions of the organism. During severe asphyxia the progressive respiratory insufficiency may induce a life-threatening cardio-respiratory failure. The sniff- and gasp-like aspiration reflex and similar spasmodic inspirations, accompanied by strong sympatho-adrenergic activation, can interrupt a severe asphyxia and reverse the developing dangerous cardiovascular and vasomotor dysfunctions, threatening with imminent loss of consciousness and death. During progressive asphyxia the reversal of gradually developing bradycardia and excessive hypotension by airway reflexes starts with reflex tachycardia and vasoconstriction, resulting in prompt hypertensive reaction, followed by renewal of cortical activity and gradual normalization of breathing. A combination of the aspiration reflex supporting venous return and the expiration or cough reflex increasing the cerebral perfusion by strong expirations, provides a powerful resuscitation and autoresuscitation potential, proved in animal experiments. They represent a simple but unique model tested in animal experiments.

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