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What exactly are those buffers?

What exactly are those buffers?
July 04, 2010 11:57AM
What exactly are those buffers?

The blood has a certain acidity level. The acidity is - in chemistry - expressed in pH values. The pH-scale is a logarithmic scale that varies from 0 to 14. Below 7 a solution is considered acid. Above 7 a solution is considered alkaline. Values below 0 or above 14 are possible, but only under extreme circumstances. Those kind of solutions are extremely dangerous: concentrated acids or lixivia.

The pH level (or acidity) of human blood is normally between 7,3 and 7,5 on the pH scale, slightly alkaline. The respiratory center keeps the acidity of the blood within this narrow band, under all kind of circumstances. To maintain this acidity level, the blood is enriched with the so called buffers. A buffer is an substance that can compensate changes in the H+ of OH- ion concentration, thus maintaining the acidity level. Known buffers are the bicarbonate system, plasma-protein and certainly not the least important the haemoglobin (iron- containing oxygen-transport metalloprotein in the red blood cells). The combined potential of the buffer systems, to maintain the acidity level, is called the buffer capacity.

If, despite all these buffer protection systems, the pH level goes beyond the normal boundaries, serious consequences are the result. If the pH level drops to much, acidosis is the result, if the pH level rises to high alkalosis is the result. Changing the respiration frequency strongly influences the carbon dioxide levels in the blood. An increase of the CO2 level leads to an increase of the bicarbonate levels. This condition is called a respiratory acidosis. A decrease of the CO2 levels leads to a decrease of the bicarbonate levels. This situation is known as a respiratory alkalosis (= hyperventilation).

The goal of the HyperVen therapy is to get the acidity level of the blood back to the narrow band of the normal pH levels. If that happens, the chemistry of the blood provides sufficient buffers to deal with hyperventilation in a normal manner again!

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