Brain ischemia is a condition in which there is insufficient blood flow to the brain to meet metabolic demand. This leads to poor oxygen supply or cerebral hypoxia and thus to the death of brain tissue or cerebral infarction / ischemic stroke. The main symptoms involve impairments in vision, body movement, and speaking. An interruption of blood flow to the brain for more than 10 seconds causes unconsciousness, and an interruption in flow for more than a few minutes generally results in irreversible brain damage.
Studies have found that H2 prevents ischemic brain damage. Studies have reported that inhalation of 2% H2 gas strongly suppressed infarct volume after middle cerebral artery ischemia-reperfusion. In an Electron Spin Resonance (ESR) study, they showed that H2 had hydroxyl radical scavenging activity. Hydroxynonenal (HNE) and 8-hydroxy-2′-deoxyguanosine (8-OHdG) immune reactivity was suppressed in the damaged brain after treatment with 2% H2. H2 inhalation reduced ischemic damage and hemorrhagic volume after transient middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO) ischemia. Free radical generation after ischemia induces matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) expression. MMP-9 promotes hemorrhagic infarction by disrupting cerebral vessels. H2 inhalation has been found to reduce MMP-9 expression. H2 also has a neuroprotective effect against global ischemia. Cerebral hypoxia-ischemia and neonatal asphyxia are major causes of brain damage in neonates. H2 gas inhalation and H2-rich saline injection provide early neuroprotection from neonatal neurological damage. A study also reported that an H2-enriched intravenous solution is safe for patients with acute cerebral infarction, including patients treated with tissue plasminogen activator (t-PA) therapy.
Metabolic syndrome is a strong risk factor for stroke. It has been reported that H2 therapy can improve metabolic syndrome in basic and clinical settings. H2 therapy may reduce stroke in patients with a metabolic syndrome involving diabetes mellitus.
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