Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Helium Helps Patients Breathe Easier, Study Finds

Date:
February 3, 2007
Source:
University of Alberta
Summary:
It makes for bobbing balloons and squeaky voices, but now helium is also helping people with severe respiratory problems breathe easier.

It makes for bobbing balloons and squeaky voices, but now helium is also helping people with severe respiratory problems breathe easier.

Related Articles


Researchers at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada have discovered that by combining helium with 40 per cent oxygen allowed patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) to increase their exercise capacity by an average of 245 per cent. COPD is a disease of the lungs caused by smoking and includes the conditions of emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

This was the first study to demonstrate that helium-hyperoxia (40 per cent oxygen, 60 per cent helium) improves the exercise tolerance of COPD patients to a greater extent than oxygen alone, which is currently used for treating patients with this disorder. People with severe COPD typically struggle for every breath while exercising and any improvements that could be made to their ability to perform exercise could have significant clinical implications.

The results of the study were published recently in the American Journal of Respiratory Critical Care Medicine.

Patients with COPD have difficulty breathing out and often air is trapped in the lungs at the end of each breath; this has been shown to be one of the primary reasons for the shortness of breath experienced by these patients. Combining the helium and hyperoxia slows down the frequency of breathing while making the air easier to breathe. This combined effect reduces the amount of air trapped in the lungs during exercise.

"This means they don't have to work as hard to breathe and they are not so short of breath during exercise, which allows them to do more," said Dr. Neil Eves, lead author on the study. Eves conducted the study for his PhD dissertation at the University of Alberta.

In the study 10 clinically stable men with moderate to severe COPD were each given four different mixes of gases including room air, while they exercised. During each test they were monitored for exercise time, breathing capacity, work of breathing and symptoms of exertion. The best results were achieved with a mix of 40 per cent oxygen and 60 per cent helium.

The helium-hyperoxia mixture improved the exercise tolerance of the patients by 245 per cent compared with air (21 per cent oxygen, 79 per cent nitrogen), by 56 per cent compared with hyperoxia (40 per cent oxygen, 60 per cent nitrogen) and 116 per cent compared with a "normal" oxygen-helium gas (21 per cent oxygen, 79 per cent helium).

"If patients were to breathe helium-hyperoxia in a rehabilitation setting, they could potentially perform a lot more exercise, which may improve their exercise capacity, fitness level and as a result, quality of life," Eves said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Alberta. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Alberta. "Helium Helps Patients Breathe Easier, Study Finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 February 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070201164714.htm>.
University of Alberta. (2007, February 3). Helium Helps Patients Breathe Easier, Study Finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070201164714.htm
University of Alberta. "Helium Helps Patients Breathe Easier, Study Finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070201164714.htm (accessed October 24, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, October 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) Conflicting studies published in the same week re-ignited the debate over whether we should be eating breakfast. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Fears Keep Guinea Hospitals Empty

Ebola Fears Keep Guinea Hospitals Empty

AP (Oct. 23, 2014) Fears of Ebola are keeping doctors and patients alike away from hospitals in the West African nation of Guinea. (Oct. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Despite Rising Death Toll, Many Survive Ebola

Despite Rising Death Toll, Many Survive Ebola

AP (Oct. 23, 2014) The family of a Dallas nurse infected with Ebola in the US says doctors can no longer detect the virus in her. Despite the mounting death toll in West Africa, there are survivors there too. (Oct. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Orthodontist Mom Jennifer Salzer on the Best Time for Braces

Orthodontist Mom Jennifer Salzer on the Best Time for Braces

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) Is your child ready? Video provided by Working Mother
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins