A small randomized trial of people with post-COVID syndrome found that hyperbaric oxygen therapy increased the heart’s ability to contract properly. The research is presented at EACVI 2023, the scientific conference of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).
“The study suggests that hyperbaric oxygen therapy may be beneficial in long-term Covid patients,” said study author Professor Marina Leitman, Sackler School of Medicine, Tel Aviv University and Shamir Medical Center, Be’er Ya’akov, Israel. “We used a sensitive measure of cardiac function that is not routinely performed in all centers. Further studies are needed to determine which patients benefit most, but it may be that all chronic COVID patients should have a global longitudinal stress assessment. If cardiac function is low If so, hyperbaric oxygen therapy is offered.”
Most of the victims of COVID-19 recover completely, but after the initial illness about 10-20% of patients develop a prolonged COVID, also known as post-COVID condition or syndrome. Symptoms include shortness of breath, fatigue, cough, chest pain, fast or irregular heartbeat, body aches, rashes, loss of taste or smell, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, dizziness, insomnia, brain fog, depression and anxiety. is Patients with post-COVID syndrome may also develop cardiac dysfunction and are at increased risk of a range of cardiovascular diseases.
This randomized controlled double-blind trial evaluated the effect of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) on cardiac function in chronic COVID patients. HBOT involves inhaling 100% pure oxygen at high pressure to increase delivery to the body’s tissues, which is particularly beneficial for tissues deprived of oxygen due to injury or inflammation. HBOT is an established treatment for non-healing wounds, decompression sickness in divers, carbon monoxide poisoning, radiation injury and certain types of infections.
The study enrolled 60 post-COVID syndrome patients with persistent symptoms for at least three months after mild to moderately symptomatic COVID-19 was confirmed by PCR testing. Both hospitalized and non-hospitalized patients were included. Severe COVID cases were excluded. Patients were randomized in a 1:1 ratio to HBOT or a sham procedure. Each patient had five sessions per week over eight weeks, for a total of 40 sessions. The HBOT group received 100% oxygen via mask at a pressure of 2 atmospheres for 90 min, with 5 min air breaks every 20 min. The sham group breathed 21% oxygen with a mask at 1 atmosphere for 90 minutes. All participants underwent echocardiography at baseline (before the first session) and 1 to 3 weeks after the last session.
Echocardiography was used to assess left ventricular global longitudinal strain (GLS), a measure of the heart’s ability to contract and relax at length. It can help determine how well the heart is working and detect early signs of heart disease. A healthy heart will have a GLS value of around -20% which means that the heart muscle is able to contract and relax properly in the longitudinal direction. A reduced GLS is an early marker that the heart is not able to contract and relax effectively.
At baseline, nearly half of study participants (29 of 60; 48%) had decreased GLS. Of these, 13 (43%) and 16 (53%) were in the sham and HBOT groups, respectively. The mean GLS at baseline across all participants was -17.8%. In the HBOT group, GLS significantly increased from -17.8% at baseline to -20.2% post intervention (p=0.0001). In the sham group, GLS was -17.8% at baseline and -19.1% after the session, with no statistically significant difference between the two measurements.
Professor Leitman said: “It was remarkable that almost half of the long-term COVID patients had impaired heart function at baseline according to the GLS, although all participants had a normal ejection fraction, which is a standard method of measuring the heart’s contractility. This means that the ejection fraction. The fraction is not sensitive enough to identify chronic COVID patients with functional impairment.”
She concluded: “Findings show that HBOT promotes recovery of cardiac function in patients with post-COVID syndrome. Further research is needed to collect long-term results and determine the optimal number of sessions for maximum therapeutic effect.”
This story is published from the Wire Agency feed without modification to the text. Only the headline has been changed.