Hyperbaric Medical Solutions (HMS) Medical Director Dr. Alan Katz recently appeared on CBS News Radio for the Los Angeles-based radio show, KNX In Depth with Mike Simpson and Charles Feldman, to discuss the potential use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) to relieve COVID-19 (novel coronavirus).
The show was broadcast live on April 13th to about 1.2 million listeners and is available online here.
During his segment, Dr. Katz explained that COVID-19 is currently being treated as a pneumonia, but should be treated as pure hypoxia, a condition in which the body is deprived of oxygen.
He further said the lungs are not failing and it’s not a ventilation problem, stating specifically that “the problem is the interface of alveoli, the lung sacs, and the blood’s ability to carry oxygen. That's where we need to focus.” To that end, he said the viral particles of COVID-19 attach to the lung vasculature, which leak fluid, creating a barrier, so oxygen can’t be transferred from the alveoli to the blood. Therefore, it's not allowing oxygen to be carried through the body effectively.
“It appears the virus is really destroying the heme portion of the hemoglobin. We can give somebody as much oxygen as we want by ventilation, but we’re not getting the oxygen transported to the body.”
Dr. Katz continues to say, "hyperbaric oxygen increases the amount of oxygen carried in the blood stream and does not depend on hemoglobin. Additionally, it decreases the inflammatory cytokine storm we are seeing in COVID-19 patients. The hope would be that, in using hyperbaric oxygen therapy, we would be able to shut down an inflammatory response and reverse the need for ventilation.”
Dr. Katz would like to see more investigation with hyperbaric oxygen therapy—mainly because it can decrease inflammation and carry increased oxygen into the bloodstream, allowing more oxygen to perfuse deep tissue and organs. HBOT being used to treat disease isn't new. In 1918, HBOT was used to successfully treat the deadly Spanish flu.
By using HBOT for COVID-19 patients, “The hope would be that after as few as two or three hyperbaric treatments, patients would no longer require ventilation", says Dr. Katz.
“The hope would be that, in using hyperbaric oxygen therapy, we would be able to shut down an inflammatory response, which we know it can do, and reverse the need for ventilation,”