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Hyperbaric oxygen helps heart patients

ODESSA, TEXAS. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HOT) is a procedure for delivering high concentrations of pure oxygen to the body. It involves breathing 100% oxygen through a mask while inside a pressurized chamber. The added pressure causes the oxygen to be dissolved in the blood. HOT has been used to successfully treat a variety of conditions from osteomyelitis to pressure ulcers and necrotizing fascitis. It is particularly effective in speeding wound healing.

Cardiologists at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center decided to see if HOT would decrease the rate of restenosis after percutaneous coronary interventions (PCIs) such as angioplasty, stent implantation and atherectomy (removal of plaque from coronary arteries). They reasoned that restenosis (reclosing of opened arteries) is likely caused by the healing of miniature wounds created in blood vessel walls during the PCI. If these wounds could be healed quicker, restenosis might be avoided. They randomly assigned 24 patients to receive two 90-minute HOT treatments after the PCI while another 37 patients served as the control group. All patients had been admitted with a heart attack or unstable angina. After an 8-month follow-up the researchers had to do a repeat PCI on 8 patients (22%) in the control group because of restenosis (vessel diameter narrowing in excess of 50%). None of the patients in the HOT group showed signs of restenosis and no repeat procedures were required. Angina recurred in 9 control group patients (24%) within 8 months as compared to only 1 patient (4%) in the HOT group. The Texas cardiologists conclude that HOT is safe and may be associated with a reduction in restenosis and recurrence of angina after PCI.
Sharifi, M, et al. Usefulness of hyperbaric oxygen therapy to inhibit restenosis after percutaneous coronary intervention for acute myocardial infarction or unstable angina pectoris. American Journal of Cardiology, Vol. 93, June 15, 2004, pp. 1533-35

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