Peripheral Oxygen Saturation Measured using Pulse Oximeter among Healthy Adults at Moderate to High Altitude City of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

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Addis Abeba University


Background: At high altitude, human body undergoes some changes as part of acclimatization and adaptation for exposure to inadequacy of oxygen due to reduction on barometric pressure of oxygen. Inadequacy of oxygen might lead to hypoxemia. The other well-known component of high altitude physiological adaptation is change in hemoglobin concentration. It is very important to know the changes in peripheral oxygen and hemoglobin (hgb) values of healthy adults living in moderately to high altitude areas such as Addis Ababa so that it helps to determine target values during disease states. However, such data are lacking for residents of Addis Ababa. Objective: The study was conducted to assess the profile of distribution of peripheral oxygen saturation measured with pulse oximeter among healthy adult population in the moderate to high altitude city of Addis Ababa. We also determined the hemoglobin concentration level of the participants to see if there is hematologic effect of altitude elevation on the permanent residents of Addis Ababa. In addition, other predictors of oxygen saturation in residents of Addis Ababa were assessed. Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted between the dates of July 30, 2021 and November 30, 2021 on permanent and active apparently healthy residents of Addis Ababa. Data was collected via structured questionnaire as well as direct measurement of weight, height, RR, PR, BP, Hgb level and spo2 with appropriate gadgets. The collected data was checked for completeness and consistency and was entered to Excel. SPSS version 26.0 was used for analysis. Mean, median, standard deviation and variance were calculated. The Chisquare test was used to identify determinant variables. A significant level of p < 0.05 was taken to conclude that the variable has a statistically significant impact on the value of oxygen saturation. Result A total of 296 participants were enrolled among which 108 (36.5%) of the participants were male while 188 (63.5%) of the participants were female. The median age of the participants was 27 years, IQR (23,33). Larger proportion of study participants fall under healthy BMI category,63.2% of the study population. The mean SpO2 (±SD) of the study population was 95.6 %(±1.61) with mean SpO2 value of male participants being 95.61% (±1.54) and 95.63 (±1.64) for female participants. Over two-third of the participants, 68.5% of male participants and 69.1% of female participants had saturation value of ≥ 95%. The mean Hgb (±SD) was found to be 15.59 (±1.58) g/dl , 16.53 (±1.46) g/dl for males and 15.05 (±1.3) g/dl for females. There was no significant association between category of spo2 versus sex (p=.910), BMI(p=.580), female hgb category (p=.610) and male hemoglobin category (p=.861) individually. Fisher’s exact test done between age categories and spO2 categories, showed statistically significant association between the two variables (two-tailed p = .000) with lesser participants achieving spo2 of 95% and above as their age increases. Conclusion Majority of the sample population had spo2 with in the normal range proposed by WHO. In addition, the hgb profile also shows the majority of the participants had hgb value within the suggested normal cut offs. Thus, we share the previous thought of conclusion made on Ethiopians having yet undetermined adaptation mechanism for exposure to high altitude as there is no phenotypic effect on their spo2 or Hgb. Consequently, we can follow the already put forward cut off value for normal Spo2 as well as hypoxia when making medical decisions in treating our patients.



Moderate altitude, oxygen saturation, hemoglobin, Addis Ababa