Professor Phil Ainslie, who teaches in UBC Okanagan’s School of Health and Exercise Sciences, recently published a study demonstrating how oxygen therapy is beneficial to people with COPD. photo: contributed

UBC Okanagan research determines oxygen may help dementia patients

Oxygen therapy proves beneficial for some people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

A team of researchers, including several from UBC’s Okanagan campus, have determined that providing extra oxygen to patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may help reduce the risk of developing dementia.

Professor Phil Ainslie, who teaches in UBC Okanagan’s School of Health and Exercise Sciences, recently published a study demonstrating how oxygen therapy is beneficial to people with COPD. A Canada Research Chair in Cerebrovascular Physiology in Health and Disease, Ainslie and his team travelled to Croatia to conduct research at the Split Clinical Hospital Centre for Pulmonary Diseases.

Their tests concluded that oxygen therapy, used on people with COPD, does improve the delivery of oxygen to the brain and can lower the risk of diseases such as stroke, mild cognitive impairment and dementia.

Study first author Ryan Hoiland, who recently completed his PhD with Ainslie, says patients with moderate to severe COPD endure a state of chronic hypoxaemia (lower levels of oxygen in the blood) due to suboptimal oxygen gas exchange.

In the 1980s it was demonstrated that oxygen supplementation reduces the risk of mortality. But the theory that oxygen can help COPD patients reduce the risk of other disease development has not been fully investigated.

“People with COPD may experience lower than normal blood oxygen levels on a consistent basis due to reduced lung function,” Ainslie said. “While COPD is a respiratory disease, the low oxygen levels cause problems throughout the body, including impacting the health of the heart and brain.”

RELATED: UBC Okanagan hosts conglanging documentary and panel discussion

Chronic COPD patients also deal with issues that can lead to blocked airways, leading to a low concentration of oxygen in the blood, or high carbon dioxide, affecting blood flow to the brain which can contribute to dementia over a period of time.

“Some evidence suggests oxygen therapy reduces the risk of cognitive impairment and by association, potentially dementia, but there is no research into exactly how the oxygen supplementation may be benefiting these particular patients relative to the function of blood vessels in the brain.”

RELATED: UBCO and Okanagan College to collaborate for green building initiatives

During their tests, researchers used ultrasound to measure blood flow to the brain of the study participants. Patients rested while they were administered oxygen for 30 minutes. The next step was for participants to spend 30 seconds reading standardized material to stimulate brain activity and then 30 seconds with their eyes closed. While this was happening, ultrasound measurements tracked changes in blood flow to the brain.

The results demonstrated that oxygen therapy improved oxygen delivery to the brain. It also improved what is called neurovascular function, the ability of blood vessels in the brain to work with neurons and other cells to ensure the right amount of oxygen is being delivered to the brain during changes in brain activity.

“This particular aspect of brain and neurovascular function is extremely important, with impaired neurovascular function implicated in the development and progression of diseases such as dementia,” said Hoiland. “This improvement in cerebral oxygen delivery and neurovascular function might provide a physiological link between oxygen therapy and a reduced risk of certain brain diseases for people with COPD.”

While the research was promising, Hoiland says very little research on how altered resting arterial blood gases affect cognitive brain function has been conducted in COPD patients and more is needed.

The paper was recently published in Experimental Physiology.

To report a typo, email:
newstips@kelownacapnews.com
.


@KelownaCapNews
newstips@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Gas prices on Vancouver Island to drop six cents

But a ‘volatile’ market could lead to increases in the coming weeks

Chemainus Fun Run participants spice up their lives

Inaugural Pumpkin Spice event adds a dash of excitement to sunny November day

Who was Chris Bloomfield, the Mill Bay man shot by police?

A troubled man with a voracious appetite for illicit drugs and a non-conventional lifestyle

BC Ferries passengers wait to leave Vancouver Island after Remembrance Day

Traffic aboard BC Ferries slows after Remembrance Day long weekend

Throw a snowball to help kids at BC Children’s Hospital

Effort will raise money for sick kids over the holidays

Vancouver Island remembers

Important stories shared as Islanders salute those who made the greatest sacrifice

B.C. on track to record same number of overdose deaths as last year

128 people died of overdoses in September, bringing the total to more than 1,100 so far in 2018

Canada Post strike having ‘critical’ impact on retailers, eBay tells PM

Canada Post says it is now facing an unprecedented backlog of shipments, largely as a result of strikes

NASA wants Canadian boots on the moon as first step in deep space exploration

The U.S. is seeking broad international support for the next-generation space station to send into orbit a in 2021

B.C. Lions GM Ed Hervey has plan for busy off-season

The Lions’ season ended Sunday with a crushing 48-8 loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the East Division semifinal

Fundraising firefighters complete quest for B.C. Paralympian

The four Penticton residents raising money for Victoria Paralympian complete journey

PHOTOS: Hockey history in B.C. as Team India comes to play

Squad played its very first game in Canada on Tuesday against Surrey Falcons

B.C. man wanted in connection to domestic assault in Edmonton

Sterling Miles Booker has ‘ROCK’ and ‘ROLL’ tattooed on his hands

Most Read