medwireNews: Cardiovascular autonomic dysfunction in people with longstanding type 1 diabetes “might be a reversible condition,” say researchers who discovered it can be transiently improved with oxygen and breathing exercises.
Jens Christian Laursen (Steno Diabetes Center Copenhagen, Denmark) and colleagues found that 100% oxygen inhalation at 15 breaths/min increased baroreflex sensitivity by an average of 21% in 54 people with an average age of 60 years and type 1 diabetes duration of 38 years.
They explain that baroreflex sensitivity is “the extent to which the heart rate changes when [blood pressure] changes, and is considered a sensitive measurement of cardiovascular autonomic function.”
Slow deep breathing (of room air at a rate of six breaths/min) improved this measure by 32% and both interventions together improved it by 30%, with no significant differences seen between the two individually or combined.
The improvements in baroreflex sensitivity observed after oxygen inhalation “seemed to be driven by hyperoxia,” say the researchers in Diabetic Medicine, suggesting that “[h]ypoxia might represent a target for intervention.”
Oxygen inhalation only slightly increased heart rate variability (by 8%), but slow deep breathing and the combination did so significantly (by 33 and 44%, respectively). These changes were not related to oxygen saturation levels.
Having macroalbuminuria did not influence response to the interventions, despite these 25 participants having poorer baseline autonomic function than those with normoalbuminuria.
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