What does it mean to be on life support system?

Thousands of people are gathered to pay homage to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee today before cremation. As per press released by AIIMS, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee was admitted for last 9 weeks at AIIMS due to kidney tract infection and chest congestion. In the last 24 hours, his condition worsened and he was kept on life support system.

Life support system does not guarantee life, nor does it promise death. It merely reduces the energy required to keep going, by facilitating respiration, giving the body a chance to heal. – Anonymous

What is a life support system?

Your lungs are the organs that help your body to take oxygen from the air called inhaling. And help to remove carbon dioxide from the body. The respiratory system includes Nose, mouth, trachea, and lungs.

Moreover, some abnormalities like asthma, poisoning, etc could make lungs inefficient. Sometimes, this problem gets severe that an external aid is required to keep the person alive.

A life support machine is required for breathing called ventilator. A patient is usually placed on a ventilator because of the medical problem that makes it hard to breathe well on their own. Sometimes, if the condition is too much severe, ventilator totally breathe for the patient.

Why would a person require external aid like Life support?

In ICU setup, a critically ill patient usually placed on a ventilator if his/her condition getting deteriorated. If a patient with any life-threatening situations like;

  1. Unable to breathe on own (Respiratory system)
  2. Irregular heart functions (Cardiovascular system)
  3. Issues related to the kidney (Renal system)
  4. Intestine malfunction (Gastrointestinal system)

It is very much mandatory to maintain these activities in our body. Life support system supports or replaces a failing bodily function.

  • Temporary Life support: When a patient has a curable or treatable condition, the life support system is up to the illness or disease stabilized and the body can resume normal functioning.
  • When the body does not regain or respond naturally, the life support system keeps the body alive. But sometimes the body could not resume to its normal functioning. In such case, the treatment is no longer beneficial for patient’s life. In such case, the support could be stopped.

Life support system is often used to maintain the patients beyond a point at which it is clear that the patient has no chances of recovery after multiple organ failure or another underlying disease. Withholding or withdrawing the treatment is totally up to the patients wish or his family consent.

People sometimes opt to keep a loved one on life support in hope that he/she will eventually recover. Life support system or ventilator does not cause any pain. Nowadays, new wireless sensors are available for emergency room patients monitoring.

Tune in to our next article on Understanding the types of life support system. 

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