Alzheimer’s disease could be delayed or even reversed by giving oxygen therapy  to patients in pressurised chambers, a new study suggests.

In a world first, Israeli researchers found that elderly patients with Mild Cognitive Impairment – a forerunner to dementia – had improved memory and brain functioning following regular 90-minute sessions in a hyperbaric chamber.

The pressure change allows more oxygen to be dissolved into the tissues and mimics a state of “hypoxia”, or oxygen shortage, which is known to have regenerating effects.

In separate animal studies, the researchers also showed that the therapy can help clear away sticky amyloid plaques in the brain which stop cells from communicating, and are a major sign of Alzheimer’s disease.

The team believes that the treatment works by changing the structure of vessels in the brain so that more blood can get through.