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Hypercapnic hypoxia as a rehabilitation method for patients after ischemic stroke

Hypercapnic hypoxia as a rehabilitation method for patients after ischemic stroke
Tatiana M Alekseeva, Maria P Topuzova, Vladimir P Kulikov, Pavel D Kovzelev, Mark G Kosenko, Pavel P Tregub
Neurol Res . 2024 Apr 21:1-11
Introduction: Experimental studies on animals have demonstrated a higher neuroprotective efficacy of hypercapnic hypoxia compared to normocapnic hypoxia. Respiratory training with hypercapnic hypoxia has shown a positive impact on the functional state of the nervous system in children with cerebral palsy (CP). It can be presumed that the combined effect of moderate hypercapnia and hypoxia will be promising for clinical application within the context of early rehabilitation after ischemic stroke.

Methods: A randomized triple-blind placebo-controlled study was conducted on 102 patients with ischemic stroke, aged 63.07 ± 12.1 years. All patients were diagnosed with ischemic stroke based on neuroimaging criteria and/or clinical criteria within the 48-72 hour timeframe. The experimental group (n = 50) underwent daily respiratory training with hypercapnic hypoxia (FetCO2 5-6%, FetO2 15-16%) using the 'Carbonic' device for 7-11 sessions of 20 minutes each day during the treatment process. The control group (placebo, n = 52) underwent training on a similar device modified for breathing atmospheric air. Neurological examinations were conducted on all patients before the study and on the day after completing the training course.

Results: The standard treatment demonstrated effectiveness in terms of neurological status scales in both groups. Intermittent exposure to hypercapnic hypoxia proved more effective in improving neurological function indicators in patients compared to the placebo group: NIHSS scale scores were 40% lower than in the placebo group (p < 0.001); mRS scale scores were 35% lower (p < 0.001); B-ADL-I and RMI indices were higher by 26% (p < 0.01) and 36% (p < 0.001), respectively; MoCA scale results were 13% higher (p < 0.05); HADS and BDI-II scale scores were lower by 35% (p < 0.05) and 25% (p < 0.05), respectively. The increase in MMSE scale scores in the intervention group was 54% higher (p < 0.001), and MoCA scale scores increased by 25% (p < 0.001).

Conclusion: Respiratory training with hypercapnic hypoxia improves the functional state of the nervous system in patients with ischemic stroke. After conducting further clarifying studies, hypercapnic hypoxia can be considered as an effective method of neurorehabilitation, which can be used as early as 48-72 hours after the onset of stroke.