Lung hyperinflation in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: mechanisms, clinical implications and treatment

Expert Rev Respir Med. 2014 Dec;8(6):731-49. doi: 10.1586/17476348.2014.949676. Epub 2014 Aug 27.


Lung hyperinflation is highly prevalent in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and occurs across the continuum of the disease. A growing body of evidence suggests that lung hyperinflation contributes to dyspnea and activity limitation in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and is an important independent risk factor for mortality. In this review, we will summarize the recent literature on pathogenesis and clinical implications of lung hyperinflation. We will outline the contribution of lung hyperinflation to exercise limitation and discuss its impact on symptoms and physical activity. Finally, we will examine the physiological rationale and efficacy of selected pharmacological and non-pharmacological 'lung deflating' interventions aimed at improving symptoms and physical functioning.

Keywords: COPD; dyspnea; lung hyperinflation; respiratory mechanics; respiratory muscles.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dyspnea / physiopathology*
  • Dyspnea / therapy
  • Exercise Tolerance / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Lung Volume Measurements
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / physiopathology*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / therapy
  • Respiratory Mechanics / physiology