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Mechanical hyperventilation hope for cardiac arrhythmias therapy

Tuesday January 21st, 2020

Prolonged mechanical hyperventilation could benefit patients who receive radiotherapy treatment for cardiac arrhythmias, British researchers have reported.

Researchers at the University of Birmingham, England, believe the technique could potentially help to diagnose ischaemic heart disease earlier.

The method involves hyperventilating conscious, unmedicated patients using a mechanical ventilator that delivers air via a face mask. The hyperventilation causes hypocapnia and the team initially explored if this method could be used to diagnose coronary heart disease.

Writing in Frontiers of Physiology, they say the technique could lead to inducing breath-holds of more than five minutes, which would support an emerging new technique in which radiotherapy, instead of radiofrequency or freezing, is used for cardiac ablation.

Radiotherapy is precisely targeted and applied from outside the chest, to destroy tissue that causes an abnormal heart rhythm. However, breathing is problematic because each breath causes the heart to move within the chest.

Lead author Dr Michael Parkes, of the University’s School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences, said: “There is still little awareness of the simplicity, availability, and safety of non-invasive mechanical hyperventilation.

“We have already shown that patients with breast cancer can breath-hold safely for over five minutes using this technique. The fact that patients with angina were able to tolerate mechanical hyperventilation so well confirms its potential to improve the newly emerging procedure of using radiotherapy for cardiac ablation.”

He added that the advantage of radiotherapy over radiofrequency or freezing is that it is non-invasive and is applied from outside the chest.

The research team is to test this technique in patients with cardiac arrhythmias to see if they can hold their breath long enough to apply the radiotherapy.

Parkes M et al. Hypocapnia Alone Fails to Provoke Important Electrocardiogram Changes in Coronary Artery Diseased Patients. Frontiers in Physiology 20 January 2020; doi: 10.3389/fphys.2019.01515

Tags: Heart Health | UK News

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