HBOT and Peripheral Artery Disease
Evidence shows that HBOT is effective in the treatment of PAD and, in addition to helping atherosclerosis, HBOT can help with wound healing on affected limbs. HBOT works to heal oxygen-deprived tissue by flooding it with increased levels of oxygen, thus promoting cell repair. HBOT also increases stem cell circulation that targets damaged cells. With HBOT, inflammation is reduced, new blood vessels grow to increase blood flow, and, in many cases, atherosclerosis is reversed, allowing for normal blood flow to return.
Research, HBOT, and PAD
Many different studies have looked at the benefits of HBOT on peripheral artery disease and atherosclerosis. A study published in 2010 looked at the effects on diabetic patients with atherosclerosis and how well it worked to reduce atherosclerosis and provide glycemic control. The study looked at 28 patients. All received 100 percent oxygen at 2.4 absolute atmospheres, five times a week for a total of 30 sessions. As a result, the patients experienced decreased inflammation, reduced lipid levels, and balanced levels of blood sugar.
A 2007 study looked at the antioxidant and athero-protective properties of HBOT. It showed that daily treatments for five to 10 weeks, provided a strong antioxidant response and the treatments resulted in a significant reduction of aortic cholesterol content. The increased levels of oxygen work to inhibit plaque growth.
What Is Peripheral Artery Disease?
Peripheral refers to outside of the heart, so peripheral artery disease affects those blood vessels outside of the heart, that supply blood to the arms and legs. PAD is most common in the arteries to the legs and can often lead to the loss of feeling and potential risk of non-healing wounds in the feet. Typical symptoms of PAD include:
- Pain, numbness, or a heavy feeling in the leg muscles, especially when walking or climbing stairs.
- Weakened or absent pulse in the legs or feet as blood is not flowing
- Open sores or wounds on the legs or feet that are slow or unable to heal
- Bluish or ashen color to the skin
- Reduced temperature of the affected limb, feels cold to the touch
- Decreased nail and hair growth on the affected limb
Increased risk factors for PAD include over the age of 50, smoking, diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, high blood pressure, a history of stroke, and kidney disease.
Traditional Treatments for Peripheral Artery Disease
Traditional treatments for PAD focus on reducing atherosclerosis and trying to prevent further blockages. This is often done by prescription cholesterol-reducing medications, high blood pressure medications, blood sugar control and medication, and blood thinners. Surgical interventions can include angioplasty to open the artery and flatten the blockage. Another option is bypass surgery to bypass a blocked or narrowed vessel. In addition, a physician may choose thrombolytic therapy where he injects a clot-dissolving drug into the blocked artery.
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