Purpose: Dyspnea is a highly distressing symptom of pulmonary disease that can make performing physical activities challenging. However, little is known regarding the strongest predictors of exercise-related dyspnea in adult cystic fibrosis (CF). Therefore, the purpose of the present study was to determine the best clinical model of exercise-related dyspnea in this patient group.
Methods: A retrospective analysis of pulmonary function and cardiopulmonary exercise testing data from patients with CF being followed up at the Adult CF Program at St Michael's Hospital, Toronto, Canada, from 2002 to 2008 were used for the analysis.
Results: Patients (n = 88) were male 66%; aged 30.4 ± 9.4 years; body mass index (BMI) 23.1 ± 3.3 kg/m; forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) 70% ± 19% predicted; and peak oxygen uptake 74% ± 20% predicted. A multivariate linear regression model assessing the effects of age, sex, BMI, airway obstruction (FEV1), perceived muscular leg fatigue, and dynamic hyperinflation explained 54% of the variance in dyspnea severity at peak exercise (P < .01). Relative importance analysis showed that the presence of dynamic hyperinflation and perceived muscular leg fatigue were the largest contributors.
Conclusions: Pulmonary rehabilitation programs may consider strategies to reduce dynamic hyperinflation and promote muscular function to best improve exercise-related dyspnea in this patient group.