Carbon dioxide balneotherapy and cardiovascular disease.
ABSTRACT Carbon dioxide (CO(2)) balneotherapy is a kind of remedy with a wide spectrum of applications which have been used since the Middle Ages. However, its potential use as an adjuvant therapeutic option in patients with cardiovascular disease is not yet fully clarified. We performed a thorough review of MEDLINE Database, EMBASE, ISI WEB of Knowledge, COCHRANE database and sites funded by balneotherapy centers across Europe in order to recognize relevant studies and aggregate evidence supporting the use of CO(2) baths in various cardiovascular diseases. The three main effects of CO(2) hydrotherapy during whole body or partial immersion, including decline in core temperature, an increase in cutaneous blood flow, and an elevation of the score on thermal sensation, are analyzed on a pathophysiology basis. Additionally, the indications and contra-indications of the method are presented in an evidence-based way, while the need for new methodologically sufficient studies examining the use of CO(2) baths in other cardiovascular substrates is discussed.