How Does a Pulse Oximeter Work?

For people with COPD, Asthma, Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) and other conditions, pulse oximetry is a technology used to measure the oxygen level in your blood and your heart rate. A finger pulse oximeter is equipped with technology to rapidly detect changes in your blood oxygen level. It can help give you the knowledge you need to take control of your condition. A finger pulse oximeter is easy to use – just clip it on your fingertip to get a blood oxygen reading.

How Does a Pulse Oximeter Work?

A finger pulse oximeter functions by shining light through your finger. The sensors detect how much oxygen is in your blood based on the way the light passes through your finger. Pulse oximetry is the technology calculating the results to display a number on the oximeter’s screen that tells you the percent of oxygen in your blood. A finger pulse oximeter also measures your pulse rate.

The use of pulse oximetry at home has expanded over the past twenty years and is expected to be one of the major growth areas in home monitoring during the next decade.

Initial use at home in the early 1990s focused on continuous monitoring with home mechanical ventilation and sleep studies. Intermittent spot-check use at home has become more common in recent years with conditions such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) and others requiring long-term oxygen therapy.

Self-monitoring enables patients to become more active participants in their health care. As the population ages and the incidence of pulmonary and cardiac diseases continue, home pulse oximetry can provide objective data for determining health status and the possible need for medical consultation or interventions.


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