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July 22, 1933


JAMA. 1933;101(4):261-266. doi:10.1001/jama.1933.02740290009004

Asphyxia is the most frequent and the most important of all pathologic processes. This is true because respiration — the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide and the production of energy — is the most fundamental process of life. Any disturbance of the circulation, any alteration of the cells of any tissue almost inevitably involves an alteration of the respiratory activity of one or more organs, or of the body as a whole. A large part of all the structural abnormalities that the pathologist studies involve perversions of tissue respiration. This is true, for instance, of cancer cells. There is good evidence, also, that not only such temporary psychic phenomena as unreasonableness in aviators and mountaineers, but even catatonic lethargy and other symptoms of insanity are dependent on impairment of the respiration of the brain.

Evidently asphyxia is something much broader than the acute conditions that are being discussed today.

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