Purpose To study if the correction of chronic hypoxia with oxygen therapy reduces serum cholesterol levels and thus the cardiovascular risk.
Background A study by Petyaev et al has documented that there is linear correlation between oxygen in plasma and total plasma cholesterol levels during acute changes in oxygen concentration being inhaled. Various human experiments in the late sixties have been able to show that hypoxia secondary to high altitude can lead to increase in serum cholesterol over several days.
Methods A retrospective study involving 647 patients was conducted at the Overton Brooks VA Medical Center. Patients enrolled in home oxygen therapy were included.
Results Table 1 shows the results for total cholesterol levels,respectively. Both total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels show a statistically significant (p < .01) decrease in cholesterol after the initiation of home oxygen therapy. The effect of home oxygen was not statistically significant on triglyceride levels or on HDL cholesterol levels.
Conclusion Our study suggests that treatment of hypoxia is effective in lowering the LDL and total cholesterol levels and thus may be the missing link to decrease risks of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Our study forms the basis for investigating the therapeutic benefits of early oxygen therapy in patients with chronic hypoxia.