Targeted inspiratory muscle training improves respiratory muscle function and reduces dyspnea in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Ann Intern Med. 1989 Jul 15;111(2):117-24. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-111-2-117.


Study objective: To examine the effects of targeted inspiratory muscle training on respiratory muscle function, clinical ratings of dyspnea, and perception of resistive loads in symptomatic patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Design: Randomized, placebo-controlled trial with an 8-week treatment period.

Setting: Outpatient pulmonary clinic and pulmonary function laboratory.

Participants: We studied 19 patients with moderate to severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, assigning 10 patients to an experimental group and 9 to a control group.

Interventions: Patients in both groups trained for 15 minutes twice each day using a device that provided breath-to-breath visual feedback of training intensity. Patients in the experimental group trained at six increasing levels of inspiratory resistance, whereas the patients in the control group trained at a constant, nominal level of resistance.

Measurements and results: Although there was no statistically discernible difference in the effects of targeted muscle training on the mean difference in maximal inspiratory pressures between the two groups (9.83 cm H2O; 95% CI, -7.37 to 27.03), patients in the experimental group did show a significant increase in inspiratory muscle strength (15.03 cm H2O; P = 0.01). Experimental subjects also had decreased dyspnea after 8 weeks of training compared with control subjects (P = 0.003). Improvements in physiologic values and in dyspnea ratings were correlated. The perception of added resistive loads was not affected by inspiratory muscle training.

Conclusions: Targeted inspiratory muscle training may enhance respiratory muscle function and reduce dyspnea in symptomatic patients with moderate to severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Breathing Exercises* / instrumentation
  • Dyspnea / etiology
  • Dyspnea / rehabilitation
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Feedback
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / complications
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / physiopathology
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / rehabilitation*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Random Allocation
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Respiratory Muscles / physiopathology*