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Ultimately, the patient develops acute respiratory failure because of the increased work of breathing caused by (1) refractory hypoxemia, (2) increased alveolar dead space, and (3) severely decreased compliance.
Alveolar dead space is the volume of unperfused spaces at the alveolar level.
Alveolar dead space is a measurement of ventilated alveoli without adequate blood flow for gas exchange and is negligible in healthy individuals.