Acute oxygen inhalation and slow deep breathing improve measures of autonomic function transiently in individuals with short-duration type 1 diabetes. Our aims were to examine these interventions and changes in autonomic function in individuals with long-duration type 1 diabetes and to explore interactions with the presence of macroalbuminuria or existing cardiovascular autonomic neuropathy.
Individuals with type 1 diabetes (n = 54) were exposed to acute oxygen inhalation, slow deep breathing and a combination of both (hereafter ‘the combination’). Primary outcomes were change in baroreflex sensitivity and heart rate variability. Associations between changes in outcomes were evaluated using mixed effects models.
Mean age ± sd was 60 ± 10 years and diabetes duration was 38 ± 14 years. Changes are presented as per cent difference from baseline with 95% confidence intervals. Acute oxygen inhalation, slow deep breathing and the combination increased baroreflex sensitivity by 21 (10, 34)%, 32 (13, 53)% and 30 (10, 54)%, respectively. Acute oxygen inhalation trended towards increasing heart rate variability 8 (-1, 17)% (P = 0.056), and slow deep breathing and the combination increased heart rate variability by 33 (18, 49)% and 44 (27, 64)% respectively. Macroalbuminuria or cardiovascular autonomic neuropathy did not modify results.
Autonomic function is improved transiently in individuals with long-duration type 1 diabetes and normoalbuminuria or macroalbuminuria by acute oxygen inhalation and slow deep breathing. There is a risk of survival bias. Autonomic dysfunction might be a reversible condition, and hypoxia might represent a target of intervention.

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