Although intermittent hypoxia training (IHT) has proven effective against various clinical disorders, its impact on mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is unknown. This pilot study examined IHT’s safety and therapeutic efficacy in elderly patients with amnestic MCI (aMCI). Seven patients with aMCI (age 69 ± 3 years) alternately breathed 10% O2 and room-air, each 5 minutes, for 8 cycles/session, 3 sessions/wk for 8 weeks. The patients’ resting arterial pressures fell by 5 to 7 mm Hg (P <.05) and cerebral tissue oxygenation increased (P <.05) following IHT. Intermittent hypoxia training enhanced hypoxemia-induced cerebral vasodilation (P <.05) and improved mini-mental state examination and digit span scores from 25.7 ± 0.4 to 27.7 ± 0.6 (P =.038) and from 24.7 ± 1.2 to 26.1 ± 1.3 (P =.047), respectively. California verbal learning test score tended to increase (P =.102), but trail making test-B and controlled oral word association test scores were unchanged. Adaptation to moderate IHT may enhance cerebral oxygenation and hypoxia-induced cerebrovasodilation while improving short-term memory and attention in elderly patients with aMCI.


  • cerebral tissue O saturation
  • cerebrovascular response
  • cognitive function
  • elderly
  • hypoxemia


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