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Respiratory arrest describes any condition where the patient cannot draw oxygen into their lungs. It can be due to a number of causes, from a blockage of the airways by foreign matter to paralysis of the diaphragm and chest muscles. Cardiac arrest is the inevitable result when a patient cannot draw in oxygen, although a patient can live for a few minutes if they cannot breathe due to the ability of the body to burn energy anaerobically.
Dealing with respiratory arrest is an emergency, and must focus on the root cause of the inability to breathe. In some cases, such as advanced pneumonia, there is little or nothing that can be done for the patient. However, if the arrest is due to the blockage of the throat, the physician can either attempt to remove or dislodge the blockage, or perform a tracheotomy on the patient to allow them to breath through the hole in the throat.