Breathing exercises aimed at improving the respiratory system’s muscular strength and endurance can considerably benefit pulmonary hypertension (PH) patients and improve their overall life quality.
Researchers in Greece in the article, “Benefits of inspiratory muscle training in patients with pulmonary hypertension: A pilot study,” published in the Hellenic Journal of Cardiology, reported results from a small study into exercise practices known as inspiratory muscle training (IMT) in these patients.
Ten people, clinically diagnosed with PH and medically stable at baseline, took part in the study. The group was randomly divided into two, matched for sex, age and body mass: five patients who underwent supervised high-intensity IMT, and patients who did not perform any exercise training.
People in the IMT group all exercised in a hospital at 60 percent of their individual sustained maximal inspiratory pressure (SPImax) for 30 minutes, three times a week, for 10 weeks. Their respiratory muscle function, lung volume, exercise capacity, dyspnea (shortness of breath), and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) were evaluated before and after training.
Despite the small number of patients analyzed, the authors found that supervised IMT provided psychological and physical benefits, including an overall improvement in exercise capacity.
“IMT resulted in an improvement in inspiratory muscle indices associated with benefits in walking distance, dyspnea and HRQoL in PH patients, confirming our hypothesis” they wrote. “Our findings are very encouraging, since previous studies also report benefits of exercise training in patients with PH.”
Among the factors that can impair life quality in these patients dyspnea, physical limitations and social isolation, all of which can lead to anxiety and depression.
“Patients with PH appear to have weaker inspiratory muscles compared with healthy subjects. IMT shows promise as a safe and potential adjunct therapy in these patients, improving dyspnea, exercise capacity and life quality,” the researchers concluded.
The team had previously shown that IMT could improve respiratory muscle indices and functional status in heart failure patients. But, they said, further studies in larger groups of PH patients are required to validate their results.