Purpose: In patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pulmonary rehabilitation has been demonstrated to increase exercise capacity and reduce dyspnea. In the most disabled patients, the intensity of exercise during the training sessions is limited by ventilatory pump capacity. This study therefore evaluated the beneficial effect of noninvasive ventilation (NIV) support during the rehabilitation sessions on exercise tolerance.
Methods: This study included 14 patients with stabilized chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, ages 63 +/- 7 years, with a forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV(1)) 31.5% +/- 9.2% of predicted value. All 14 patients participated in an outpatient pulmonary rehabilitation program. Seven of the patients trained with NIV during the exercise sessions (NIV group), whereas the remaining seven patients breathed spontaneously (control group). Exercise tolerance was evaluated during an incremental exercise test and during constant work rate exercise at 75% of peak oxygen consumption (VO(2)) before and after the training program.
Results: The application of noninvasive ventilation increased exercise tolerance, reduced dyspnea, and prevented exercise-induced oxygen desaturation both before and after training. The pressure support was well tolerated by all the patients during the course of the training program. In the NIV group, training induced a greater improvement in peak VO(2) (18% vs 2%; P <.05) and a reduced ventilatory requirement for maximal exercise, as compared with the control group. The constant work rate exercise duration increased similarly in both groups (116% vs 81%, nonsignificant difference), and posttraining blood lactate was decreased at isotime (P <.05 in both groups), but not at the end of the exercise.
Conclusion: In this pilot study, exercise training with noninvasive ventilation support was well tolerated and yielded further improvement in the increased exercise tolerance brought about by pulmonary rehabilitation in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. This improved exercise tolerance is partly explained by a better ventilatory adaptation during exercise.