Respiratory failure is a drop in the oxygen content of blood. Acute respiratory failure refers to a sudden drop in blood oxygen, as could occur during choking or suffocation.
Chronic respiratory failure can occur in the course of a disease (such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis, leukemia, etc.) which interferes with the function of the lungs in adding oxygen and removing carbon dioxide from the bloodstream.
by Catherine E. Myers. Copyright © 2006 Memory Loss and the Brain