Skip to Content
Home > Wellness > Health Library > Oxygen Therapy for Heart Failure
Oxygen that may be supplied by:
Oxygen therapy is a way to get more oxygen into your lungs and bloodstream. It is sometimes used for people who have diseases that make it hard to breathe, such as heart failure. Oxygen therapy can make it easier to breathe. And it can reduce the heart's workload.
Some people need extra oxygen all the time. Others need it from time to time throughout the day or overnight. A doctor will prescribe how much oxygen you need, based on blood tests. He or she will tell you how much oxygen to use per minute (the flow rate) and how often to use it.
To breathe the oxygen, most people use a nasal cannula (say "KAN-yuh-luh"). This is a thin tube with two prongs that fit just inside your nose. Children and people who need a lot of oxygen may need to use a mask that fits over the nose and mouth.
You don't have to stay at home or in a hospital to use oxygen. Oxygen systems are portable. You can use them while you do your daily tasks.
Your doctor will determine how much
oxygen you need with a blood test called
arterial blood gas and another test called
oximetry. These tests measure the levels of oxygen in
Long-term oxygen therapy is given to people with
heart failure who have low levels of oxygen in their
blood. It is given to increase the amount of oxygen in the blood to provide for
the body's needs.
Oxygen therapy can decrease shortness of
breath and allow you to do more.
Oxygen therapy helps reduce the
heart's workload. In heart failure, the heart does not pump as effectively as
it should and does not meet the body's needs for oxygen. Oxygen therapy helps
compensate by increasing the amount of oxygen delivered to the body's
Home oxygen therapy can help decrease shortness of breath
and increase your capacity to exercise.
In general, there are no adverse effects
from oxygen treatment. But oxygen is a fire hazard. It is important to follow
safety measures to keep you and your family safe. Do not use oxygen around lit
cigarettes, open flames, or flammable substances.
will set the flow rate per minute to give you the right amount of oxygen. Don't
change the flow rate unless your doctor tells you. Higher flow rates usually do
not help and can increase the risk of harmful carbon dioxide buildup in the
blood, especially in people who also have lung disease.
Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not
available in all systems.)
Do not use oxygen around lit
cigarettes, open flames, or flammable products. If you or those who care for you smoke, be sure to
consider oxygen therapy very carefully because of the danger of fire or
For information on safety, hygiene, and travel, see:
Complete the new medication information form (PDF)new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.
April 26, 2012
Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology & Margaret Hetherington, PHM, BsC - Pharmacy
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
To learn more visit Healthwise.org
© 1995-2013 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.