Objective: Few studies have evaluated the variability of the perception of dyspnea in healthy subjects. The objective of this study was to evaluate the variability of the perception of dyspnea in healthy subjects during breathing against increasing inspiratory resistive loads, as well as to assess the association between the level of perception of dyspnea and the level of physical activity.
Methods: This was a cross-sectional study involving healthy individuals 16 years of age or older. Subjects underwent inspiratory resistive loading testing, in which the level of perception of dyspnea was quantified with the modified Borg scale. We also determined body mass indices (BMIs), assessed maximal respiratory pressures, performed pulmonary function tests, applied the international physical activity questionnaire (IPAQ)-long form, and conducted six-minute walk tests (6 MWTs). The level of perception of dyspnea was classified as low (Borg score < 2), intermediate (Borg score, 2-5), or high (Borg score > 5).
Results: We included 48 healthy subjects in the study. Forty-two subjects completed the test up to a load of 46.7 cmH2O/L/s. The level of perception of dyspnea was classified as low, intermediate, and high in 13, 19, and 10 subjects, respectively. The level of perception of dyspnea was not significantly associated with age, gender, BMI, IPAQ-long form score, maximal respiratory pressures, or pulmonary function test results.
Conclusions: The scores for perceived dyspnea induced by inspiratory resistive loading in healthy subjects presented wide variability. The perception of dyspnea was classified as low in 31% of the subjects, intermediate in 45%, and high in 24%. There was no association between the level of perception of dyspnea and the level of physical activity (IPAQ or six-minute walk distance).