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B. A Breakthrough In Treating Respiratory Failure

Narrator: This is Science Today. A simple adjustment to a mechanical ventilator supplying air to patients with a devastating and often fatal type of respiratory failure, may save thousands of lives each year. Dr. Michael Matthay of the University of California, San Francisco, was part of a national study seeking better therapy for Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, or ARDS.

Matthay: ARDS is a type of severe respiratory failure that usually is severe enough so that the patient needs to be treated in an intensive care unit where more often than not, they need to also be ventilated with a mechanical ventilator.

Narrator: In their study, a 25% drop in mortality was reported after simply re-setting the ventilator to give patients shorter breaths of air.

Matthay: I think this is a dramatic breakthrough. To reduce the mortality in a syndrome of respiratory failure like this by 25% is really just a major milestone.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.