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Respiratory training can help lung patients

Respiratory ProblemsMay 01, 06

For people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) such as emphysema, a simple home-based training routine aimed at the muscles used for breathing, led to a significant improvement in exercise endurance and other benefits, Dutch researchers.

Dr. Ralph J. H. Koppers of Medical Center Leeuwarden and colleagues note that impaired exercise capacity is often a problem for COPD patients. Respiratory muscle endurance training based on increasing the level of carbon dioxide breathed can be helpful but requires complicated and expensive equipment.

The researchers developed a simplified approach in which a tube connected to a mouthpiece increases dead space and prompts rebreathing of exhaled carbon dioxide, according to their report in the medical journal Chest

The team then randomly assigned 36 patients with moderate to severe COPD to tube-breathing group or a sham-training group, who breathed through a flow meter. The subjects trained for 15 minutes per day for 5 weeks.

The tube-breathing patients showed a significant improvement in exercise endurance, which rose from 18 minutes to 28 minutes on a constant-load cycle ergometer.

There also was a significant reduction in patients’ perception of being out of breath and an increase in muscle endurance capacity, as well as improvements in quality-of-life scores. There were no significant changes in the sham-training group.

The researchers call for further studies in patients with very severe COPD, but point out that “this easily applicable and inexpensive technique can be applied on a large scale.”

SOURCE: Chest, April 2006.

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