Here is a breather for those who suffer from severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). A new finding has revealed that breathing a special gas mixture may help in drastic improvement of exercise performance in such individuals. Patients revealed that after breathing the gas, their endurance walking test improved nearly 64% with less shortness of breath. These findings have been published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, published by the American Thoracic Society.
Elizabeth A. Laude, Ph.D., of the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom, and seven associates studied the effects of varying oxygen and helium levels in the air breathed during exercise by 82 patients who had severe, but stable COPD. Four different gas mixtures were used to test the patients, 72 percent helium and 28 percent oxygen (Heliox28); 79 percent helium and 21 percent oxygen (Heliox21); 72 percent nitrogen and 28 percent oxygen (Oxygen28); and 79 percent nitrogen and 21 percent oxygen (medical air).
Researchers were optimistic of bringing down the airway resistance by substituting the normal supplementary oxygen with lower density helium gas, "COPD is associated with impaired exercise capacity, which contributes significantly to a reduced quality of life in these patients," said Dr. Laude.
It was observed that Individuals with the worst lung function test results portrayed the highest benefit from the special mixtures.
Dr Laude said "Although the recent American Thoracic Society/European Respiratory guidelines had recognized COPD is a preventable and treatable condition, it is still regarded by many as one in which significant improvement is not possible. Our data shows this is not the case. The changes in endurance exercise and reductions in breathlessness we report while breathing increased inspired oxygen or heliox gas mixtures are substantial, being at least comparable to those achieved with current bronchodilator therapy, pulmonary rehabilitation or even lung volume reduction surgery."
Source: Eureka Alert