The energy in food is converted into energy that can be used by the body’s cells. During cellular respiration, glucose and oxygen are converted into carbon dioxide and water, and energy and the energy is transferred to ATP, an important fuel used by cells.
Carbon dioxide helps the blood to flow throughout the brain. Internal carbon dioxide is a key cerebral vasodilator. It affects the entire vasculature of the brain.
Too much or too little internal carbon dioxide, though, can cause problems with consciousness, cognition and memory. The body must keep its internal carbon dioxide within a narrow range in order for the brain and the mind to function normally. The skeletal muscle system, such as the respiratory muscles, under the guidance of the brain, exhales the excess carbon dioxide so that it does not build up and become toxic.
Skeletal muscles comprise 30 to 40% of your total body mass. They’re the muscles that connect to your bones and allow you to perform a wide range of movements and functions. Skeletal muscles are voluntary, meaning you control how and when they work. If these muscles get damaged then they will not function as well and this will affect their function. And all skeletal muscles and their nerves can get temporarily or permanently atrophied, depending on the conditions that they are exposed to. This means that skeletal muscles and their nerve tissue can shrink and become weaker in strength.
And some skeletal muscles are not voluntary, especially the muscles that act as a ventilatory pump, moving air in and out of the lungs. The lungs have no skeletal muscles of their own. The work of breathing is done by the diaphragm, the muscles between the ribs (intercostal muscles), the muscles in the neck, and the abdominal muscles.
The diaphragm, located below the lungs, is a large, dome-shaped muscle that contracts rhythmically and continually, and most of the time, involuntarily.. The diaphragm is attached to the base of the sternum, the lower parts of the rib cage, and the spine.
Breathing is usually automatic, controlled subconsciously by the respiratory center at the base of the brain. Breathing continues during sleep and usually even when a person is unconscious. People can also control their breathing when they wish, for example during speech, singing, or voluntary breath holding. Sensory organs in the brain and in the aorta and carotid arteries monitor the blood and sense oxygen and carbon dioxide levels. Normally, an increased concentration of carbon dioxide is the strongest stimulus to breathe more deeply and more frequently. Conversely, when the carbon dioxide concentration in the blood is low, the brain decreases the frequency and depth of breaths. During breathing at rest, the average adult inhales and exhales about 15 times a minute. During breathing at rest, exhaling takes no effort, no work. During vigorous exercise, however, a number of muscles participate in exhalation. The abdominal muscles are the most important of these. Abdominal muscles contract, raise abdominal pressure, and push a relaxed diaphragm against the lungs, causing air to be pushed out. This is arranged by the respiratory centre subconsciously in response to oxygen and carbon dioxide levels. https://www.merckmanuals.com/en-ca/home/lung-and-airway-disorders/biology-of-the-lungs-and-airways/control-of-breathing Merck Manual; Consumer Version HOME / LUNG AND AIRWAY DISORDERS / BIOLOGY OF THE LUNGS AND AIRWAYS / CONTROL OF BREATHING accessed January 10 2022.
Without carefully measuring baseline respiratory rate at rest, it becomes impossible to detect neuromuscular weakness affecting the respiratory muscles. Paula seems to have injuries to the skeletal muscles of her skeletal ventilatory system and she is not aware of it.
Control of breathing and of the control of internal [endogenous] carbon dioxide continually produced by living cells requires healthy lungs AND healthy skeletal muscles. Excess internal carbon dioxide MUST be exhaled as we seem to have no other physiological mechanism for normal rising internal carbon dioxide to leave our bodies. This make the skeletal muscles pretty key to maintaining the correct amount of internal carbon dioxide and not too much or too little; too little internal carbon dioxide [when we breathe out too much of our CO2] leads to loss of consciousness. So internal CO2 seems to be an important factor in the state of being conscious. Too much of internal carbon dioxide [as it never stops being continually produced] is toxic in a dose related manner with dose related signs and symptoms and will stimulate protective physiological reflexes , one of which is hypertension.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) increases cerebral blood flow and Arterial Blood Pressure. . 2011 Jun 15;589(Pt 12):3039-48. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol. 2011.206052. Epub 2011 Apr 26. JPhysiol. The cerebrovascular response to carbon dioxide in humans A Battisti-Charbonney 1, J Fisher, J Duffin
Essential hypertension [high blood pressure where the medical cause is still unknown] accounts for 95% of all cases of hypertension.
This means that we have not yet uncovered the underlying biochemical cause of 95% of all cases of high blood pressure. [aside from poor diet, smoking, and other modifiable lifestyle factors] .
Could a possible underlying biochemical cause of high blood pressure be abnormal arterial pressure of carbon dioxide in the vasculature due to injury and/or diseases affecting the proper working of the skeletal ventilatory system?
Could “control of breathing” problems due to the effects of aging and injuries to the skeletal muscles be the cause of some or many of the cases of high blood pressure problems?
If so, and it is very possible that this is so, this points to yet another reason to look more closely to evaluate the skeletal respiratory muscles by learning more about a patient’s respiratory rate, depth and patterns . Skeletal muscles and the skeletal respiratory muscles are subject to the same age and injury related changes; they can become atrophied, weakened, and strengthened with chemicals and nutrients and rehabilitative exercise and if necessary, with adaptive tools. The difference between the skeletal respiratory muscles and the skeletal muscles we use to speak and walk and carry stuff and run is that we do not depend on these other skeletal muscles to push air in and out of our bodies, like we do the respiratory skeletal muscles. So injury and aging effects to the skeletal respiratory muscles will make control of gaseous molecules outside and inside the body more difficult to exchange and will stimulate non specific signs of physiological distress, such as high blood pressure, tachycardia, arrhythmia’s , headaches, seizure, anguish [non visible shortness of breath] , and altered mood and mental status [depressed and/or excited abnormal mental status] as well as changes to locomotor activity and state of consciousness [sleepiness, insomnia] and more.
If learn more about abnormal baseline breathing rates and patterns without having to resort to invasive procedures such as arterial blood gas tests, we could to learn more about how to mitigate the effects of abnormal breathing rates and patterns through provision of supportive medical care and nutritional care and rehabilitative care, all of which can work to support the skeletal muscles, including the respiratory skeletal muscles in support of more effective movement of gas molecules in and out of the body, endogenous gas molecules in the air we breathe in our houses and workplaces [where we spend most of our time] AND of continuous and internally produced gas molecules which need to be held in check in the correct amounts.
And minute ventilation [respiratory rate times tidal volume] is easy to assess in awake non ventilated ambulatory patients at rest. And evaluating minute ventilation is non invasive and easy AND along with severe non specific physical signs, such as cognitive impairment and memory loss for ordinary things [amnesia-partial], could direct a doctor to the correct and effective treatments to immediately improve the mental status of the patient and to perhaps prevent future episodes of mental confusion, whatever the prognosis of the injury to the respiratory muscles.
Paula and I think that the skeletal ventilatory system are vital for the proper function of the mind.