Impact of device-guided slow breathing on symptoms of chronic heart failure: a randomized, controlled feasibility study

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AimsIn many patients with chronic heart failure (CHF) even normal daily life activities cause dyspnoea and fatigue, well-being might be considerably improved by even a modest decrease in such symptoms. The aim of this study was to investigate if lowering breathing rate with the help of a respiratory modulation (RM) device could improve symptoms in patients with CHF.Methods and resultsStable CHF patients with symptoms of dyspnoea were randomized to twice-daily 20 min sessions using an RM device or to music listening (ML) using a CD player, for a 4-week study period. Respiratory modulation guides the user to achieve a slow breathing rate (<10 breaths/min) while increasing exhalation time (Tex) relative to inhalation time (Tin). Lower breathing rate was accomplished by synchronizing respiratory movements with musical tones generated in response to breathing movements monitored with a belt-type sensor. Endpoints were reduced breathlessness and New York Heart Association (NYHA) class. Seventy-two patients (52 male, age 73 ± 11 years, NYHA 3.1 ± 0.9) were randomized and 65 completed the study (30 RM and 35 ML, respectively). There was no in-between group improvement in breathlessness and NYHA class. Patients in the RM group who displayed an average increase in Tex/Tin of >0.2 and a reduction in the average respiration rate during 30 sessions were considered responders. Responders reported reduced breathlessness (−0.86 ± 0.23 units, P < 0.005) and improved NYHA class (−0.64 ± 0.20, P < 0.01) compared with non-responders.ConclusionDevice-guided RM might have the potential to relieve symptoms of heart failure in outpatients by changing their breathing pattern.

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