Breathing pattern and breathlessness in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis: An observational study

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Background and objective:

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is characterized by progressive decline in lung function and increasing dyspnoea. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship among IPF, pulmonary function, resting tidal breathing patterns and level of breathlessness.


Thirty-one participants with IPF and 17 matched healthy controls underwent lung function testing, followed by a 2-min period of resting tidal breathing. The IPF cohort was stratified according to disease severity, based on their forced vital capacity and diffusion capacity for carbon monoxide.


In comparison to the healthy controls, the IPF cohort showed a higher tidal volume, VT, of 0.22 L (P= 0.026) and a raised minute ventilation in the severest IPF group, while no differences in the timing of inspiration or expiration were observed. In the IPF cohort, the ratio of VT to forced vital capacity was around 15% higher. These changes corresponded with an increase in the self-reported sensation of breathlessness.


Those with IPF increased their depth of breathing with worsening disease severity, with IPF-induced changes in pulmonary function and breathlessness associated with an altered tidal breathing pattern.


Breathing patterns were measured in people with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Resting ventilation rate increased with worsening disease severity and declining lung function. These changes were associated with increased breathlessness and cough severity. These data show a quantifiable link between symptoms and disease severity potentially allowing improved IPF management.

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