Should oxygen be used for patients with chronic heart failure?

May 21, 2012

Researchers at the University of Hull, in the UK, have just launched a major new trial investigating the effects of home oxygen therapy in patients with chronic heart failure (CHF).

Since home oxygen therapy (HOT) can be inconvenient for patients is and expensive, a robust trial is required to offer some clear guidance about whether HOT should be offered routinely to patients with chronic .

Around 669,000 people in the UK aged over 45 have the condition, in which the heart is too weak to pump blood efficiently around the body. Chronic heart failure is frequently characterised by , which can be worse when the patient lies down to sleep.

Although home oxygen therapy is frequently prescribed to treat the symptoms, there is no conclusive evidence as to its efficacy. Indeed, although the patient may be short of breath, this is not always linked to low .

Professor Andrew Clark, of the University of Hull, who leading the study, explains: "There is a strong belief that oxygen must be vital for patients suffering from breathlessness: however we can't be certain that home oxygen therapy is effective, particularly since we know many CHF patients who are well treated with medication have normal levels of arterial oxygen in their blood while they are at rest and during exercise."

The research was commissioned by the National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment (NIHR HTA), which funds research into the effectiveness, costs and broader impacts of healthcare treatments.

Around 165 patients will be recruited to the and given either overnight HOT, or HOT for 17 hours per day, alongside their regular medical therapies. A third group will continue to receive their normal with no home oxygen. The trial will last for two years, during which time the research team will measure a range of factors, including the patient's overall quality of life, exercise ability and breathlessness, as well as the severity of CHF.

"The results of the research will offer clinicians useful guidance on whether home is beneficial to patients with ," says Professor Clark. "This will enable them to better target treatments for the benefit of patients and to ensure resources are used cost-effectively."

The study will be based initially at Hull, but involving other research institutions around the UK as the study progresses.

Explore further: Not faster, but longer -- new drug changes beat in treating heart failure

Related Stories

Targeting leg fatigue in heart failure

October 31, 2011

Doctors should not only treat the heart muscle in chronic heart failure patients, but also their leg muscles through exercise, say researchers in a study published today in the Journal of Applied Physiology.

Recommended for you

Heart attack treatment hypothesis 'busted'

July 6, 2015

Researchers have long had reason to hope that blocking the flow of calcium into the mitochondria of heart and brain cells could be one way to prevent damage caused by heart attacks and strokes. But in a study of mice engineered ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.