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Effects of a helium/oxygen mixture on individuals’ lung function and metabolic cost during submaximal exercise for participants with obstructive lung diseases

Authors Häussermann S, Schulze A, Katz IM, Martin AR, Herpich C, Hunger T, Texereau J

Received 21 May 2015

Accepted for publication 6 July 2015

Published 21 September 2015 Volume 2015:10(1) Pages 1987—1997

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/COPD.S88965

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Professor Hsiao-Chi Chuang

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Russell

Sabine Häussermann,1 Anja Schulze,1 Ira M Katz,2,3 Andrew R Martin,4 Christiane Herpich,1 Theresa Hunger,1 Joëlle Texereau2

1Inamed GmbH, Gauting, Germany; 2Medical R&D, Air Liquide Santé International, Centre de Recherche Paris-Saclay, Les Loges-en-Josas, France; 3Department of Mechanical Engineering, Lafayette College, Easton, PA, USA; 4Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada


Background: Helium/oxygen therapies have been studied as a means to reduce the symptoms of obstructive lung diseases with inconclusive results in clinical trials. To better understand this variability in results, an exploratory physiological study was performed comparing the effects of helium/oxygen mixture (78%/22%) to that of medical air.
Methods: The gas mixtures were administered to healthy, asthmatic, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) participants, both moderate and severe (6 participants in each disease group, a total of 30); at rest and during submaximal cycling exercise with equivalent work rates. Measurements of ventilatory parameters, forced spirometry, and ergospirometry were obtained.
Results: There was no statistical difference in ventilatory and cardiac responses to breathing helium/oxygen during submaximal exercise. For asthmatics, but not for the COPD participants, there was a statistically significant benefit in reduced metabolic cost, determined through measurement of oxygen uptake, for the same exercise work rate. However, the individual data show that there were a mixture of responders and nonresponders to helium/oxygen in all of the groups.
Conclusion: The inconsistent response to helium/oxygen between individuals is perhaps the key drawback to the more effective and widespread use of helium/oxygen to increase exercise capacity and for other therapeutic applications.

Keywords: helium/oxygen, inspiratory capacity, oxygen uptake, COPD, asthma, obstructive airway diseases, exercise, heliox

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