A study carried out by the Sackler School of Medicine at Tel Aviv University has discovered that hyperbaric oxygen therapy promotes the recovery of cardiac function in patients with long COVID. Professor Marina Leitman, the study author, said:
"The study suggests that hyperbaric oxygen therapy can be beneficial in patients with long COVID. We used a sensitive measure of cardiac function which is not routinely performed in all centres. More studies are needed to determine which patients will benefit the most, but it may be that all long COVID patients should have an assessment of global longitudinal strain and be offered hyperbaric oxygen therapy if heart function is reduced."
Whilst most individuals with COVID-19 usually recover just fine on their own, approximately 10-20% of patients develop long COVID, which has a vast assortment of symptoms. These might include shortness of breath, chest pain, an irregular heartbeat, insomnia, brain fog, and many more.
This particular study investigated the effect of HBOT on the cardiac function of long COVID patients. 60 patients were selected, all of whom had been suffering from a post-COVID condition for more than three months. Each patient received five sessions per week for eight weeks, totalling 40 sessions overall.
The participants were split into two groups. One group received the real deal, breathing in pure oxygen at 2.0 ATA (atmosphere absolute) for 90 minutes at a time.
The non-HBOT group breathed in 21% oxygen via a mask at normal atmospheric pressure (1.0 ATA). Before the sessions began, everyone underwent echocardiography at baseline, and then again one to three weeks after the last session.
"The findings suggest that HBOT promotes the recovery of cardiac function in patients with post-COVID syndrome. More research is needed to collect long-term results and determine the optimal number of sessions for maximum therapeutic effect."
The echocardiography was used to assess left ventricular global longitudinal strain (GLS) – the heart’s ability to contract and relax lengthways. A healthy heart will have a GLS value of around -20%.
The average GLS across all participants was -17.8%, which increased to an average of -20.2% in the HBOT group and -19.1% in the non-HBOT group.
Professor Leitman said on the study’s findings: