A new study found that exposure to reduced oxygen levels, similar to high altitude, could benefit the health of older patients at risk of complications from surgery. The researchers conducted a trial with eight volunteers who spent a week in a hypoxia facility to test this idea. They found that exposure to simulated high altitude increased the participants’ haemoglobin levels, which could be beneficial before surgery. The researchers suggested that providing patients with small scale hypoxic canopies to use while sleeping in the weeks leading up to surgery could be a practical way to implement this idea. Lead author Professor Thomas Smith stated that further studies are needed to explore the potential benefits of simulated altitude exposure for older and sedentary patients before surgery. Overall, the study suggests that altitude training could have advantages for older and sedentary patients before major surgery, but more research is needed to confirm this.
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