Oxygen therapy promotes heart health in people with long-term COVID

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What is hyperbaric oxygen therapy?

Imagine a special kind of treatment where you inhale pure oxygen under high pressure. This treatment is known as hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT).

It is typically used to heal stubborn wounds, treat divers with decompression sickness, and various other conditions.

Now scientists are exploring how this oxygen treatment can help people who struggle with symptoms long after they recover from COVID-19. This condition is known as “Long-COVID” or “Post-COVID Syndrome”.

Long COVID and its impact

Most people who contract COVID-19 make a full recovery. But around 10-20% of them continue to feel sick long after the virus has gone away.

These people have Long-COVID. They often feel tired, have trouble breathing, suffer from body aches and a long list of other symptoms.

These can include heart problems that increase the risk of heart disease.

How can oxygen therapy help?

Professor Marina Leitman and her team from the Sackler School of Medicine and Shamir Medical Center in Israel decided to investigate whether HBOT could help people with long-term COVID.

They conducted a study involving 60 patients who had been struggling with long-lasting COVID symptoms for at least three months.

The patients were divided into two groups. One group received HBOT and the other group received a sham treatment (often referred to as a ‘sham procedure’ in scientific studies).

All patients received the treatment five times a week for eight weeks.

During each HBOT session, patients breathed 100% pure oxygen through a mask for 90 minutes. The pressure was twice the normal air pressure that we experience on a daily basis.

The patients in the sham group breathed normal air (which contains about 21% oxygen) at normal atmospheric pressure.

Does the treatment work?

To see if the treatment was working, the scientists used a special heart test called an echocardiogram. This test looks at how well the heart contracts and relaxes.

The better it can do that, the healthier it is. The measure they use is called Global Longitudinal Strain (GLS), and a healthy heart typically has a GLS of around -20%.

When the study began, nearly half of the patients had GLS levels below normal, suggesting their hearts weren’t working as well as they should.

After eight weeks of treatment, the patients who received HBOT showed a significant improvement in their GLS scores. However, there was no significant change in those who received the sham treatment.

Professor Leitman found that many of the patients with low GLS scores had normal results on other heart tests.

This suggests these other tests may not be good enough to detect heart problems in people with long COVID.

What’s next?

Professor Leitman believes HBOT could be a promising treatment for long-COVID patients. Still, she says we need more studies to find out which patients benefit most from this therapy.

While we need more research, this study gives hope to people struggling with Long-COVID.

It offers a potential new way to help her heart return to normal. Therefore, we may see more doctors using oxygen therapy to treat long-term COVID patients in the future.

If you care about lung health, please read studies about it why Viagra can be useful in the treatment of lung diseasesAnd Scientists find herbal supplements to treat lung cancer.

Further information on the subject of health can be found in current studies Gum disease associated with impaired lung functionand results are displayed Wild plant extracts can inhibit the COVID-19 virus.

The study was presented at EACVI 2023, a scientific congress of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).

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