Objectives: To present additional analysis of data from a previously published study showing that biofeedback training to increase heart rate variability (HRV) can be an effective component in asthma treatment. HRV and intervention-related changes in HRV are negatively correlated with age. Here we assess the effects of age on biofeedback effects for asthma.
Design: Ten sessions of HRV biofeedback were administered to 45 adults with asthma. Medication was prescribed by blinded physicians according to National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute criteria. Medication needs were reassessed biweekly.
Results: Decreases in need for controller medication were independent of age. There were larger acute decreases in forced oscillation frequency dependence in the older group but larger increases in HRV variables in the younger group. Differences between age groups were smaller among subjects trained in pursed-lips abdominal breathing as well as biofeedback, than among those receiving only biofeedback.
Conclusions: Age-related attenuation of biofeedback effects on cardiovascular variability does not diminish the usefulness of the method for treating asthma among older patients. Additional training in pursed-lips abdominal breathing obliterates the effects of age on HRV changes during biofeedback.