Oxygen gives our body the needed energy to cope with every day activities. Lack of oxygen causes infections in our body and our immune system cannot cope with viruses and bacteria.
If we are breathing the normal air (there is 21% of oxygen in the normal air), the level of oxygen that gets to our body depends on the power of our red blood cells. Because oxygen is carried by the hemoglobin on the red blood cells. The blood vessels in the lungs bring oxygenated blood to the heart. The heart then pumped it out to the cells of the body. If our blood cells are not working properly then we have an issue. But if we increase the pressure, for example at the pressure above 1.5 ata, then oxygen is dissolving into plasma and it’s oxygenating our body.
Source: AHA Hyperbarics, internal material.
Plasma is the clear, straw-coloured liquid portion of blood. Plasma is composed of 90% water and is functioning as a transporting medium for cells. It carries the blood components throughout the body. If we are breathing oxygen at 2.0 ata, there is more oxygen coming to our blood (oxygen are white circles on the picture below). The goal of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is to shift the percentage of dissolved oxygen in every cell in the body to levels that are 15-20 times normal.
[box type=”info”] Hyperbaric oxygen has several effects (e.g., vasoconstriction, neovascularization, boosting the immune system, killing anaerobic bacteria, helping with neurological problems, healing white tissues faster). HBOT adds oxygen to hypoxic tissue, reduces inflammation, strengthens the immune system, and constantly improves basic health, which could otherwise be fatal. HBOT creates super-oxygenation (hyperoxia).[/box]
Beneficial hyperbaric therapy by means of pure oxygen supply regenerates damaged cells in a human body and prevents further damage from occurring. Patients inhale larger quantities of oxygen due to being exposed to a high-pressure environment, which allows more oxygen to be distributed to the damaged tissue and this in term leads to a quicker recovery. Physical properties of oxygen cause it to dissolve in plasma when exposed to high pressure. Consequently, plasma supplies all of body’s tissues with oxygen, even tissue with poor blood circulation.
If we give our body extra fuel (oxygen) it can fight the infections better, also COVID-19.
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT IF WE BREATHE PURE OXYGEN UNDER THE PRESSURE IF WE ARE INFECTED WITH COVID-19?
The medical doctors that are treating COVID-19 patients are observing at many cases that the patients had below normal level of oxygen in the blood, t.i. hypoxemia. This means an insufficient supply of oxygen to organs and tissues, resulting in dysfunction of organs and the whole organism. This is caused by a cytokine and chemokine response that causes endothelial cell apoptosis, which damages the pulmonary microvascular and alveolar epithelial barriers. This causes alveolar edema, which eventually leads to hypoxia and a cytokine storm. The rapid increase in cytokines and chemokines attracts large numbers of neutrophils and monocytes, resulting in inflammatory infiltration and consequently lung damage. All of these cytokines are known mediators of the inflammatory response and may be affected by HBOT therapy.
Mechanism of cytokine storm in COVID-19 and potential therapies.
HBOT is “used in clinical practice to treat inflammatory conditions but has not been scientifically evaluated for COVID-19. Experimental and empirical data suggests that HBOT may reduce inflammatory response in COVID-19.”
Some hospitals are using HBOT already as a way to help COVID-19 patients avoid the need for mechanical ventilation. HBOT has been used to improve organ hypoxia and prevent eventual patient intubation and mechanical ventilation.
Researchers are trying to prove that HBOT could be an early intervention for COVID-19 patients, utilized at the first signs of decline in oxygen blood saturation levels as well as for critically ill patients. The mechanisms of action associated with hyperbaric oxygen are uniquely able to impact these pre-critical patients’ disease symptoms, hopefully having positive effects on acute disease outcomes.
Early intervention before mechanical respiration may be extremely helpful in saving lives. In doing so, HBOT is an excellent source for improving the outcome of infection if performed in the early stages as soon as the oxygen concentration in the arteries decreases. Studies show that HBOT may be suitable for patients in the first phase – the patients who have not yet been intubated – to avoid intubation and also avoid the transfer to the intensive care unit. This reduces the workload of the intensive care unit and staff. The recovery of the patient may be quicker.
If medical doctors can avoid intubation of the infected patient, length of stay of the patient in the hospital can be shortened and the consequences on the patient milder. If the stay is shorter, then we have less expenses, the medical staff can treat more patients that need help, the staff is less burdened etc.
“The potential for the use of HBOT in the case of COVID-19 was demonstrated by two case reports from Wuhan, China, which showed an improvement in the condition of severely ill patients by increasing blood oxygen saturation levels and reducing lung inflammation. In a recently published case series Louisiana, USA, 5 patients with “impeding intubation” was treated with hyperbaric oxygen, patient’s symptoms were immediately relieved and they all recovered after 1–6 treatments without intubation and mechanical ventilation. In addition, HBOT has been reported to be safe during the use of mechanical ventilation.”
Several medical doctors from all around the world have reported that for severe COVID-19 patients, that are already intubated, HBOT can help speed recovery and there is less damage to the respiratory organs (UHMS webinar, June 2020). A few hyperbaric oxygen treatments have the “potential to reduce inflammation, restore normal defence mechanisms and thereby reduce the detrimental effects of oxygen requirement in COVID-19 pneumonitis.”
And what type of hyperbaric chambers can be used?
Some scientists recommended the use of monoplace hyperbaric chamber as they can be brought directly to the intensive care unit. Because there were issues arising of how to transport the patient from the intensive unit to the hyperbaric chamber, if there is only a multiplace or a hard-shell hyperbaric chamber available in the hospital.
Also, some scientists raised a question about the disinfection of the chamber. How to clean it, how quickly, can we use the chamber for other, healthy patients, how to protect the personnel etc.
The answer that we already proposed to several hospitals worldwide is, a transportable and inflatable hyperbaric chamber, operating on high pressure that we can bring directly to the patient in need, wherever the patient is. Our AHA chambers are light, however safe, effective and allow treatment on the most used protocol (2.0 ata) that is in place for treating COVID-19 patients. There are no big issues with cleaning and disinfecting the chamber.
Our medical AHA Flex 20 V2 hyperbaric chambers are equipped with special breathing system with over-board oxygen exhaust with anti-bacterial filter mounted on the exhaust oxygen hose for elimination of the impurities and microorganisms, allowing to direct the exhaled oxygen outside the chamber and outside the treatment room and therefore minimize the risk for the personnel of getting infected. AHA Flex 20 V2 inflatable hyperbaric chambers can also be easily transportable on a hospital bed; they fit through hospitals or regular doors. They are certified as medical devices (CE0123) and approved for usage with 100% oxygen, which means we can use the hospital source of oxygen (or other sources).
Let’s use the advanced technology and let us help to recover quicker from this pandemic disease that is paralyzing our daily routine and already taken too many lives.
Note: HBOT is an off-label use for COVID-19.
- Moon, Richard E., Weaver, Lindell K. Hyperbaric oxygen as a treatment for COVID-19 infection? UHM 2020, Vol. 47 no. 2.
- Guo, Dazhi, Pan, Shuyi, Wang, MaoMao, Guo Yufeng. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy may be effective to improve hypoxemia in patients with severe COVID-19 pneumonia: two case reports. UHM 2020, Vol. 47 no. 2.
- Paganini, Matteo, Bosco, Gerardo, Perozzo, Filippo Andrea Giovanni, Garreto, Giacomo. The role of hyperbaric oxygen treatment for COVID-19: A review. Advances in Ecperimental Medicine and Biology, July 2020.
- Gorenstein, Scott A., Castellano, Michael L., Slone, Eric S., Billete, Brian and others. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy for COVID-19 patients with respiratory distress: treated cases versus propensity-matched controls. UHM 2020, Vol. 47 no. 3.
You might also be interested in the article Forever young – We can reverse aging with HBOT