‘High altitude’ breathing for pre-diabetes patients: participants needed

Published 14 June 2016

Charl Neuhoff with hypoxicator
Could breathing high altitude air, where oxygen levels are lower, improve the health of type-2 diabetes patients? Researchers from Southern Cross University are investigating the link and are seeking participants for a new study.

“We’re trying to see whether simulating a high altitude environment, where there’s a lower oxygen concentration in the air, might have a beneficial effect on someone with high blood glucose levels,” said Mr Charl Neuhoff, a postgraduate researcher in the School of Health and Human Sciences who is leading the study.

“Other studies indicate that intermittent exposure to hypoxia (that is, breathing air with oxygen levels lower than normal), with or without exercise, may have beneficial effects of slowing blood sugar in individuals with type-2 diabetes, as well as in weight control.

“The aim of our research is to conduct a preliminary study on whether intermittent exposure to hypoxia has an effect on blood sugar levels of individuals with impaired fasting glucose.”

Participants will breathe through a mask with air provided by a hypoxicator, which simulates the air found at 3000 metres above sea level.

“The hypoxicator works by increasing the amount of nitrogen in the air, thereby reducing the concentration of oxygen, which is not harmful to the body. The participant will be sitting in a chair,” said Mr Neuhoff.

Men and women aged between 18 and 65 years, with a fasting blood sugar level in the range of 6.1-6.9 mM, are invited to take part.

Participants must be able to attend the Lismore campus of Southern Cross University.

The research has two phases. Phase One is to investigate the acute effect of hypoxia intervention. Participants will be given one hour intervention session per week, for four weeks. Phase Two is to determine the effects of eight weeks intervention with three one-hour sessions per week.

The research has obtained approval by the Human Research Ethics Committee of Southern Cross University (approval number: ECN-16-025).

For more information about the study, including suitability and details of time commitment, contact Charl Neuhoff on 0404 762 986 or 02 6620 3991.

Photo: Photo: Charl Neuhoff using the hypoxicator.

Media contact: Sharlene King media officer, Southern Cross University, 02 6620 3508 or 0429 661 349.