NIHR Signal Breathing exercises improve asthma and can be learned by DVD

 Breathing exercises taught by a physiotherapist in person or on DVD both improved the quality of life of adults with poorly controlled asthma to a small but similar extent. The DVD was the cheapest option, and it could lead to inexpensive internet delivery in the future.

This NIHR-funded trial recruited 655 UK adults with poorly controlled asthma. It showed about 63% of those receiving the breathing exercises had clinically important improvements in their asthma-related quality of life over a year, compared to 56% who improved receiving usual care.

Exercises did not improve formally measured lung function, suggesting the underlying biology of the asthma was unchanged.

The findings imply that breathing exercise programmes – currently recommended in the 2016 British guideline on the management of asthma when delivered by a physiotherapist – may be equally effective, and cheaper when delivered via DVD (or another video).

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Editor: Juan C. Ivancevich, MD

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