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Apneic episodes cause the oxygen content of the blood to decrease and the carbon dioxide levels to increase. This means that the heart, brain, and other vital tissues are periodically deprived of needed oxygenated blood. Furthermore, blood pressure rises sharply in both the pulmonary and systemic arteries, and the heart slows (bradycardia) and may stop entirely (asystole) for as long as 6 to 8 seconds. These changes are temporarily reversed when breathing is resumed.
|Sheri Ann Richerson|