Intermittent hypoxic training
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Intermittent hypoxic training (IHT), also known as intermittent hypoxic therapy, is a non-invasive, drug-free technique aimed at improving human performance and well-being by way of adaptation to reduced oxygen.
An IHT session consists of an interval of several minutes breathing hypoxic (low oxygen) air, alternated with intervals breathing ambient or hyperoxic air. This procedure is repeated over a 45- to 90-minute session per day, with a full treatment course taking three to four weeks.
Standard practice is for the patient to remain stationary while breathing hypoxic air via a hand-held mask. The therapy is delivered using a hypoxicator during the day time, allowing the dosage to be monitored. Biofeedback can be delivered using a pulse oximeter.
The phenomenon of IHT is that it delivers a non-damaging training stimulus that naturally triggers a cascade of beneficial adaptive responses without adverse effects. The response is almost instant and is evident at various levels, from systemic down to cellular. Treatment dosage of IHT can be measured and expressed using the hypoxic training index.
It is important to differentiate between physiological adaptations to mild hypoxia and re-oxygenation episodes (i.e., the IHT protocol) and frequent nocturnal suffocation awakenings produced by sleep apnea, which might result in various pathologies.
- chronic heart and lung diseases
- asthma and chronic bronchitis
- liver and pancreatic diseases
- anxiety and depression
- iron-deficiency anaemia
- lack of energy and fatigue
IHT is contra-indicated in case of:
- acute somatic and viral diseases
- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD-II and COPD-III)
- chronic diseases with symptoms of decompensation or terminal illness
- individual intolerance of oxygen insufficiency
- cancer, unless IHT is prescribed by a doctor
- people with epilepsy, pacemakers or heart arrhythmias, unless treatment (including IHT) is under direct medical supervision.
Although there are no reported adverse effects with IHT, basic treatment protocol suggested by the manufacturer must be followed.
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