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July 6, 1918


JAMA. 1918;71(1):40-41. doi:10.1001/jama.1918.02600270042010

Forty years have elapsed since Paul Bert, in 1878, offered the first proof that the symptoms and dangers of low barometric pressure depend on diminished oxygen pressure, and consequent insufficient oxygen content in the blood. There are other conditions than barometric pressure, however, that also affect the capacity of the living cells to carry out their customary processes of oxidation. Local circulatory alterations may enhance or retard the usual respiratory exchanges in the tissues in such a way as to bring about more or less profound alterations in the temporary make-up of the cells. Impairment of oxidation, therefore, is not always directly attributable to actual oxygen deficiency in the larger environment of the organism.

In the majority of cases in which the effects of oxygen want have been studied, the symptoms investigated were those associated with grosser physiologic processes. The finer analysis that observes the enforced changes within the living