Intermittent Hypoxia Therapy

A non-invasive treatment

Alexey Platonenko,  CEO, AiMediq, Luxembourg

In addition to improving athletic performance, Intermittent Hypoxia Therapy (IHT) has been found to have positive effects on conditions such as coronary heart disease, cardiological disease, bronchial asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, metabolic disorders (obesity, type II diabetes) and aids in recovery after spinal cord injury.

1. IHT is not well known in the west, how long has it been used in Russia? How many people have undergone IHT so far?

There are references to crude attempts at treatments that seem similar to intermittent hypo-oxidating back to the middle ages. However, modern scientific study of intermittent hypoxia therapy (also known as periodic hypoxia, interval hypoxia, hypoxic preconditioning etc.) really took off in the 1930s in the Soviet Union, driven mainly by military requirements.

In the past three decades intermittent hypoxia, and its possible applications, have again been the subject of a considerable amount of research. The number of publications indexed in PUBMED under the keywords ‘intermittent hypoxia’ increased from 15 in 1983 to 385 by 2013. As a result the use of Intermittent Hypoxia Therapy (IHT) has been extended beyond its already established roles in altitude pre-acclimatisation and sports performance enhancement to treatments for a variety of clinical disorders.

Because it offers a drug-free alternative with very few contraindications,IHT has been widely prescribed in Russia and the formerSoviet Union countries for two decades, with patient numbers now around 2 million. Of those 75 to 95 per cent have reported good or satisfactory results.In recent years IHT has been gaining recognition among healthcare professionals and has grown in popularity in Europe and the USA.

2. How is your device different from those that were used in Russia for so many years?

The ReOxy device varies greatly from its Soviet predecessors and trying to compare them is like comparing an old model T Ford to the latest Tesla; they are both cars but they use very different technology.

The ReOxy is the first device of its kind that allows precise calculation and dosing of hypoxic load tailored individually for each patient. ReOxy uses SelfRegulated Treatment (SRT) technology that relies upon the principle of biological feedback, where the patient’s bodily reactions define and control the therapeutic parameters throughout the treatment session.

It is important to correctly calculate the individual dose to be used for every hypoxia treatment and not to over or underdose. Overdosing hypoxia can result in negative effects similar to those caused by obstructive sleep apnea syndrome. Underdosing hypoxia, on the other hand, can reduce the procedure’s efficacy. In ReOxy’s case, the hypoxic load dose is calculated pretty much the same way as pharmacological substances. It can subsequently be repeated and / or adjusted higher or lower as required. That is why ReOxy is the first device certified for medical application of IHHT in accordance with MDD 93/42/ EEC medical EU directive.

3. What makes you think MEDICAL FAIR ASIA (MFA) 2016 is the best place for you to showcase the ReOxy?

When we were researching for a platform to launch the ReOxy device in Asia, MEDICAL FAIR ASIA 2016 stood out as the premier event of its kind with the greatest reach in the region. It seemed the obvious choice that will allow us to introduce our innovative breathing therapy device ReOxy into the Asian market and share the recent developments in the field of IHT.

4. What kind of response are you expecting from MFA 2016, both qualitatively as well as quantitatively?

Considering ReOxy’s growing popularity in Europe, we are expecting widespread interest and acknowledgment from the Asian professional audience.  ReOxy and IHT have multiple applications in many medical fields including: cardiology and neurology (for treatment, rehabilitation and prevention), metabolic diseases, pulmonology, and gerontology; so we are expecting great interest from potential distributors.

5. What sort of patients is IHT best suited for?

IHT can be used on patients with a wide variety of conditions. Beneficial results from IHT application have been obtained for cardiological disease (arterial hypertension, coronary artery disease),
bronchial asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, metabolic disorders (obesity, type II diabetes);recovery after spinal cord injury as well as for preparation for surgery. The use of IHT, as a drug-free alternative, is especially important in paediatrics. IHT has also been successfully used in many other areas of medicine such as functional neurological and psychosomatic  disorders, depression, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

6. While conceptualising IHT, what kind of pre-emptive measures were executed to ensure its safety and easy deployment?

From the beginning it has been Ai Mediq’s intention to bring the USSR-developed concept of IHT to Europe and the wider global market; and to do that we knew we would have to develop a device that meetsthe strictest international standards.With that in mind we have invested a lot of resources into the development of multiple safety systems. ReOxy uses advanced software that reads and analyses information from a built-in pulse oximeter to adjust the supplied air mixture and timing for each patient individually in response to changes in vital indicators, i.e., blood oxygen saturation (Sp02) and heart rate.

We have also had several iterations of the user interface with each generation being deployed with limited user groups for testing. After every such deployment we gathered feedback to analyse the user experience and revised and improved the whole user interface accordingly.

The patient/ user experience was another we looked at carefully when developing the ReOxy. It has taken three years of non-stop research and liaising with leading industry suppliers from all over the world to develop the individual breathing set we currently use and which we believe offers the best user experience.

Our pursuit of excellence has not stopped and we continue to research and develop the next generation of accessories that will benefit our patients even more in the future.

At Ai Mediq, as well as applying our own safety and control standards at every stage of production, we ensure all our suppliers are certified in the EN ISO 13485 and ISO 9000:2000 standards.

7. Apart from cardiovascular conditions, are there other types of conditions that respond well to IHT?

Hypoxia is a highly non-specific impact factor and causes a large variety of physiological reactions on various levels in human body. The therapeutic effect of IHT method relies on adaptive responses to mild repeated short-term hypoxia aimed at improvement of oxygen delivery and utilisation. These compensatory mechanisms of adaptation have been scientifically proven to effectively treat a variety of pathological conditions where hypoxia and/or oxidative stress play a significant role, such as COPD, obesity and Metabolic Syndrome, neurological diseases (transient ischaemic attack, recovery after stroke and spinal cord injury)Parkinson’s disease and vascular dementia.

8. Have any contraindications such as pregnancy or asthma been established /detected?

As with every treatment methodology, the ReOxy has some contraindications:

• Diseases with symptoms of decompensation
• Acute somatic diseases
• Acute inflammatory diseases
• Life-threatening arrhythmias
• Myocardial infarction and/or revascularisation (< 8 weeks prior to IHT treatment)
• Episode of unstable angina
• Severe systemic non-cardiac disease

9. Do you reckon that IHT can be used concurrently with other therapies and prescription drugs?

Being a non-invasive, non-pharmacological treatment, IHT can be safely used in combination with other therapies and prescription drugs.

Additional data

1.Basovich SN. Trends in the use of preconditioning to hypoxia for early prevention of future life diseases. Biosci Trends. 2013 Feb;7(1):23-32. Review. PMID:  23524890.

-- Issue 35 --

Author Bio

Alexey Platonenko

Alexey Platonenko graduated  from the Moscow Medical Academy with a degree in oncology and  surgery in 1998 after which he pursued post-graduate studies in high-tech and diagnostics equipment. He worked for three years as the Chief of the Diagnostics Department at the Moscow Hospital Ministry of Internal Affairs and is currently the CEO of AiMediq.