A new technique that can enable a person to hold their breath for over five minutes has been developed by medical researchers who aim to use it as a treatment method to cure heart conditions such as arrhythmia. The University of Birmingham research that was published in Frontiers in Physiology initially proposed this technique as a means for the diagnosis of ischaemic heart disease.
The technique involved hyperventilating conscious, unmedicated patients using a mechanical ventilator which delivers air to the patient via a face mask. Hyperventilation causes hypocapnia that leads to temporary constriction in the coronary arteries. The research team was able to confirm that mechanical hyperventilation and hypocapnia were well-tolerated and safe for patients with angina.
This bought the idea to induce breath-holds of over five minutes to support an emerging new technique in which radiotherapy, instead of radiofrequency or freezing, is used for cardiac ablation. In this procedure, patients with arrhythmias undergo precisely targeted radiotherapy, applied from outside the chest, to destroy tissue that is allowing incorrect electrical signals to cause an abnormal heart rhythm. Breathing is a problem 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, explained “Stopping breathing with a safe breath-hold of over 5 minutes, using mechanically induced hypocapnia and now with oxygen-enriched air, could allow surgeons to target the radiotherapy for cardiac ablation much more precisely.” The next step is to test this technique in patients with cardiac arrhythmias to see if they too can hold their breath long enough to apply the radiotherapy. (ANI)
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