Giving animals supplemental oxygen while they are having a stroke can reduce the likelihood of brain tissue damage and this could have an impact on how older persons are treated during such an emergency.
However, delivering the oxygen on time is an important part of preventing brain damage, says an assistant professor of surgery at Ohio State University named Savita Khanna. In fact, if the oxygen is delivered too late, it could harm the patient.
"The use of supplemental oxygen after blood flow is restored in the brain appears to actually cause harm by unleashing free radicals," said Khanna.
"The resulting tissue damage was worse than stroke-affected tissue that received no treatment at all."
Free radicals are unstable molecules that can cause unhealthy changes in cells, according to the Mayo Clinic.
The type of stroke that supplemental oxygen can help treat is called an ischemic stroke. These are caused by a clot blocking blood flow in the brain. Other kinds of strokes include hemorrhagic strokes, which occur when blood vessels in the brain rupture.