Medical Surgical Labs Priority Labs #3

Question

What assessment finding would the nurse expect to see in a client with a CO2 of 50 mmHg?

Answers

  1. Tachypnea
    • Rationale:

      This answer is correct because a CO2 of 50 mmHg indicates too much carbon dioxide in the blood. The body will compensate by breathing rapidly to eliminate the excess CO2 from the lungs. This is called tachypnea.

  2. Hypotension
    • Rationale:

      This answer is not correct because with hypercapnia, the client will experience hypertension, not hypotension. With high levels of CO2, there will be low levels of oxygen in the blood, causing the blood pressure to increase because the pulmonary arteries narrow.

  3. Bradycardia
    • Rationale:

      This answer is not correct because with high levels of carbon dioxide, the heart rate will increase, not decrease. This is due to greater cardiac output.

  4. Rigors
    • Rationale:

      This answer is not correct because rigors are not associated with hypercapnia. Rigors occur when the body temperature rises too quickly.

Overview

A client with hypercapnia will have hyperventilation or rapid breathing, increased blood pressure, and increased heart rate. They will experience mental status changes, restlessness, agitation, and skin will be pale, cool and clammy.

Explanation

Learning Outcomes

A CO2 of 50 mmHg signifies that there is too much carbon dioxide in the blood. This is called hypercapnia. In hypercapnia, the client will experience rapid breathing. This is a compensatory method for the body to eliminate the excess carbon dioxide. The client will also experience hypertension due to the low oxygen levels in the blood. The heart rate will increase due to the extra demand on the heart to output. Symptoms will include mental status changes, restlessness, agitation, pale skin, cool and clammy skin, and hyperventilation.

Test Taking Tip

Memorize the blood oxygen levels and know the signs that accompany.

Video Rationale