Hyperbaric oxygen therapy could be a treatment for people with COVID-19, according to two physicians at NYU Winthrop Hospital.
Scott Gorenstein and David Lee conducted a study of 20 patients with COVID-19 whom they put in a hyperbaric chamber. Ninety percent of those patients survived. Of 60 patients who did not receive the treatment, 78% survived.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has long been used to treat scuba divers who develop decompression sickness. The treatment works by placing a patient in a chamber with 100% oxygen. The pressure in the chamber forces oxygen into the body and increases the ability of the blood to store and transport oxygen.
COVID-19 causes severe respiratory problems, which in turn can cause low oxygen levels in the blood.
But Lee warned against reading too much into the study.
"I guess I feel hopeful that maybe we're on the right track," he said. "We don't want to come out and say that this shows that hyperbaric oxygen is definitely effective. We think the next step is to do a larger randomized study of this now that we've demonstrated that hyperbaric oxygen seems to be safe in therapy among COVID patients."
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