Posted on Apr 15, 2019, 1 p.m.
The amount of oxygen that reaches important parts of the body is limited with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, thus those with COPD are prone to developing neurodegenerative disease.
University of British Columbia research suggests giving patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease extra doses of oxygen could help to prevent the onset of dementia. “Inefficient exchange of oxygen gas in those with moderate to severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease could lead to the onset of chronic hypoxemia,” explains Ryan Hoiland. The team reports oxygen therapy boosted amounts of beneficial gas reaching the brain of those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, thus increasing oxygen to the brain could help to protect patients from neurodegenerative diseases. Oxygen treatment may even reduce risks of cardiovascular diseases, adds Phil Ainslie.
Oxygen therapy was shown to help decrease risk of mortality in patients with COPD in the 1980s, but no one had examined the ability of oxygen to protect a patient from other diseases. “Those with COPD may experience lower than normal blood oxygen levels on a consistent basis due to reduced lung function, while COPD is a respiratory disease low oxygen levels cause problems throughout the body including impacting health of the brain and heart.” says Hoiland.
Literature indicates oxygen therapy may decrease chances of cognitive impairment and dementia which seemed to be achieved by improving the activity of blood vessels in the brain. When airways of those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease become blocked it can cause a drop in blood oxygen levels and concentration levels of carbon dioxide to climb; when the brain receives this low oxygen high CO2 blood for extended periods of time it could become more vulnerable to dementia.
The team started by evaluating blood flow to the brain of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients, after initial reading patients rested for 30 minutes while having oxygen treatments. After treatments patients read standardized materials for 30 seconds to induce activity in their brains, then they spent the next 30 seconds with their eyes closed.
Pre and post treatment measurements were taken using an ultrasound device. Analysis showed oxygen therapy increased oxygen levels in blood that reached the brains of the patients.Treatment also bolstered ability of blood vessels in the brain to coordinate with other cells, the neurovascular function made sure the brain was getting enough oxygen during periods of increased activity that needed the energy boost.
“This particular aspect of brain and neurovascular function is extremely important, with impaired neurovascular function implicated in the development and progression of diseases such as dementia. This improvement in cerebral oxygen delivery and neurovascular function might provide a physiological link between oxygen therapy and a reduced risk of certain brain diseases for people with COPD.” said Hoiland.
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